Liverpool to stay at Anfield


Liverpool FC to reveal plans to stay at spiritual Anfield home

LIVERPOOL Football Club was today formally announcing plans to remain at Anfield.

The club are revealing proposals for a major redevelopment of their world famous stadium on its current site as part of a huge Liverpool City Council-led regeneration project for the Anfield area.

The council has secured a £25m government grant to regenerate the Anfield area.

A housing association – Your Housing – will pump in millions more.

The scheme revealed today involves clearing some streets close to the Reds’ ground – Lothair Road, Alroy Road and Sybil Road – and renovating scores of properties in four specific, wider areas of the Anfield district.

Some terraced streets will be split and reshaped, some properties demolished and many others massively refurbished to “good as new” standards.

A number of residents in the areas affected will be proposed for relocation to newly upgraded properties close to their current homes.

Provided all that happens as is now being envisaged – and provided formal planning approval is eventually given – the Reds then intend to spend around £150m on major re-modelling works at Anfield.

Big extensions to the stadium’s Main Stand and Anfield Road stand would be built to give the club thousands of extra seats. Though no exact capacity numbers are finalised at this stage, the ECHO understands a figure in the region of 60,000 is anticipated.

The club stress it has now officially decided it wants to redevelop its home for the past 120 years as its favoured option – as opposed to building a new stadium in Stanley Park.

And Liverpool now fully intends to finally get the job done.

But, until other key elements of the wider regeneration scheme are successfully negotiated and completed, the club cannot categorically guarantee the stadium redevelopment plan will ensue.

The club is nonetheless very confident its plans – being revealed in detail at a town hall press conference at 10am this morning (which you can follow live on this website) – will come off over the next few years.

The ECHO understands the cautious, step-by-step approach is being deliberately taken, given the false dawns and broken promises made over the past decade to both supporters and residents.

The club is also determined to respect the wishes and sensitivities of its neighbours.

It wants to work closely with them and other agencies involved to deliver open communications – and ensure any concerns that some families may have about relocation are fully taken on board.

Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group and club directors are also anxious to avoid Reds supporters being given unrealistic “spade in the ground within 60 days” style pledges.

That is a now infamous phrase associated with the doomed Hicks and Gillett regime – which promised much by way of swift construction work on a new home for the Reds in 2007, but which never delivered.

However, if things do go to plan from today, the stadium re-development work could be completed in around four or five years’ time.

Three rows of streets behind the main stand would be cleared, allowing Liverpool to build out from its current footprint on that side of the ground.

A large mezzanine would be constructed plus a new, tiered Cantilever stand above the current Main Stand seats, taking the whole stand considerably higher into the skyline than at present.

Supporting pillars currently in place would all disappear, ensuring no obstructed views anywhere in the Main Stand.

There would also be new offices, restaurants and facilities and a tunnel-style concourse area at ground level to the Main Stand. The Anfield Road stand, meanwhile, would also be re-developed up with a much bigger second tier providing thousands more seats again.

The extension would take it not just much higher than at present, but also out and across Anfield Road.

The club hopes disruption would be kept to a minimum in the seasons affected by re-construction work, ensuring no significant loss of matchday revenues.

Today’s ground-breaking announcement comes two years to the day since Boston-based Fenway Sports Group – then called New England Sports Ventures – rescued Liverpool in a dramatic court battle which saw Tom Hicks and George Gillett finally ousted.

The massive debts imposed on the club by Hicks and Gillett were wiped away at a stroke with the takeover.

Today’s stadium re-development plan reflects a similar scheme successfully completed at the home of Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park.

LFC principal owner John Henry and club chairman Tom Werner masterminded and oversaw a major, phased redevelopment of the historic American ballpark.

That saw the Red Sox retaining decades of baseball history and tradition, rather than leaving it behind and moving to a new site.

It is hoped Liverpool fans will also be relieved the club now intends to similarly stay put.