Liverpool To Expand Anfield To 60,000 Seats At A Cost Of $250M
EPL Liverpool has "moved a step closer" to redeveloping Anfield after confirming it wants to remain at its existing home and "not build a new stadium in Stanley Park," according to Chris Bascombe of the London TELEGRAPH. Liverpool City Council announced "extensive plans for a regeneration of the Anfield area" Monday after securing a £25M ($40M) grant. A housing association is also set to "invest heavily." The announcement to extend the club's only home since 1892 came on the two-year anniversary of Fenway Sports Group buying the club. Liverpool Managing Dir Ian Ayre said, "Today represents a huge step forward for the Anfield area. Everyone at the football club knows the importance of today." Redevelopment is "likely to see" major improvements and extensions to the main stand and the Anfield Road end. However, that is all "subject to planning permission," which has been made possible by the regeneration plans to clear some streets close to the ground, and the support of homeowners and the community. Redevelopment is "entirely dependent on being able to get the necessary permissions to carry out the work." Work on Stanley Park "cannot be conclusively consigned to the wastebin until those have been secured" (TELEGRAPH, 10/15).
CAPACITY TO INCREASE: In London, Dominic King noted that Ayre admitted the club was "against moving to a new super stadium at Stanley Park," which would have cost £400M ($643M) and would have "divided fans." Ayre said: "If you build a new stadium, for example, one of the big challenges is that, depending on the capacity, you build 15,000 or 16,000 new seats, you don't get 60,000 new seats in a new stadium, you only get the difference. That makes it very difficult to make it viable because the cost of building such a big new stadium doesn't work economically, particularly in this market" (DAILY MAIL, 10/15). Also in London, Tony Barrett reported that Ayre was "unable to provide detail on either proposed capacity or estimated cost, saying that a number of hurdles need to be cleared before such clarity can be achieved." Liverpool, though, is budgeting for the redevelopment to cost about £154M ($248M) and to increase the capacity of Anfield from 45,000 to 60,000. A board, headed by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, will be set up to "oversee a large scale regeneration programme with the stadium at its heart." Though Liverpool is now working in collaboration with the city council, the redevelopment of Anfield is "dependent on local residents either selling their homes to allow necessary demolition or being compelled to sell by Compulsory Purchase Orders" (LONDON TIMES, 10/15).
NEIGHBORLY ADVICE: BLOOMBERG's Tariq Panja wrote that Liverpool had "previously ruled out enlarging Anfield, citing difficulties in getting planning consent." The stadium is located "amid a maze of row houses in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods." Ayre said, “I know a proposition of staying at Anfield has been looked at before, but fundamentally the difference is that for the first time ever all of the relevant parties are coming together for a common initiative, and that common initiative is not for the needs of the football club but actually the needs of the community” (BLOOMBERG, 10/15). In Liverpool, Marc Waddington reported that Liverpool apologized to the people of Anfield for "leaving them living in limbo for more than a decade while it made up its mind whether to stay at its current ground." Ayre said, “The best thing we can do is apologise and find the right solution.” Over the years, the Reds bought up a number of properties immediately behind the ground in Lothair Road, but they were "left to fall into dereliction." Ayre said: “I’m happy to apologise on behalf of the club for anything people feel aggrieved about" (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 10/15). In London, David Conn wrote on the GUARDIAN's Inside Sport blog that Anderson said those who own their homes will, be offered "market value." However, the market around Anfield "has collapsed." Therefore, residents, some of them elderly, are "unlikely to be able to buy a similar house in another, non-derelict area, and could end up in debt or paying rent." As their homes are to be bought to facilitate Liverpool making many millions of pounds, residents believe the price of their homes "should include development value and recognise the awful conditions they have been forced to tolerate while the club has been making its mind up." Anderson promised there will be consultation, and residents will be talked to in a "sensible and sympathetic way," but then referred to people who had sought "four times the market value" for their homes on other regeneration projects, and wanted to "screw" the council. Anderson said, "We will be sensitive, but we can't let a small group hold back regeneration" (GUARDIAN, 10/15).