Liverpool look to have moved a step closer recently to concluding the long-running saga of whether to redevelop Anfield or to build a new stadium in Stanley Park.
It has emerged that FSG prefer the option to redevelop Anfield as they do not see it financially viable to spend roughly £400m building a stadium from scratch, that will only provide an extra 15,000 seats.
However, Liverpool maintain that they are keeping their options open and may still choose to build a new stadium if there are significant problems with redeveloping Anfield or building a new stadium becomes more viable.
Why do Liverpool need a bigger stadium?
It’s simple. Money.
Liverpool have the potential to draw a much larger crowd than the 45276 that they are restricted to at Anfield. With the FFP rules coming, it is vital that Liverpool create enough revenue to be able to compete with Manchester City and Chelsea’s spending power.
At the moment, Liverpool are being left behind by Manchester United and even Arsenal in terms of match-day revenue due to their much bigger stadiums (75,811 and 60,361 respectively) and the corporate facilities that each of these stadiums have. United’s match-day revenue is €6.4m and Arsenal’s €6m—compared to Liverpool’s meagre by comparison €2.75m.
Multiply that by 19 and there is a huge disparity between our revenue compared to our rivals.
Even Chelsea, who have a smaller stadium capacity (41,837) have a bigger revenue, €4.3m, due to their corporate facilities.
Clearly if Liverpool are to stay in touch with the new-look top 4 (United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal) then maximising revenue from every possible avenue will be essential.
Liverpool need at least a 60,000 seat stadium and more corporate facilities to gain revenue which can then be spent on the new players otherwise they face falling further and further behind.
Ian Ayre attended a meeting on May 15th in which he was presented with three different options involving the demolition of houses so that Liverpool would have the ability to expand Anfield.
It was confirmed that these plans would meet the clubs requirements.
Liverpool would pay home owners the ‘open market valuation’ price as well as an extra 10% in ‘home loss payments’ and removal costs.
The main obstacle to expanding Anfield is not the issue of space, but an issue of ‘right to light’.
Expanding Anfield would restrict the neighbouring houses of enough natural light, demolishing them though would remove this problem. Liverpool council have said they hope to begin work on this plan this summer.
The Guardian reported:
The plans, presented to a neighbourhood “stakeholders meeting”, including the Rockfield Residents Association, all propose knocking down the row of terraces closest to the main stand, on Lothair Road. The second two options, more favoured, involve demolishing two additional rows of houses – both rows on Lothair Road, and the first on the next street, Alroy. The remaining houses are planned to be refurbished: one option suggests replacing the demolished houses with a commercial development, possibly a hotel.
Redeveloping Anfield: The Plan
- Add an extra tier to Anfield Road end
- Add an extra tier to the Main Stand
- Add more corporate facilities
Reveloping Anfield positives:
- History. Staying at Anfield would mean that Liverpool would not have to leave behind all of the history and memories that have grown with Liverpool FC as a club. Anfield has an aura due to the countless victories and famous European nights and is known world-wide due to it’s heritage. Keeping this would be priceless.
- Cheaper. It would cost less money to redevelop Anfield—£150m compared to £400m—and it would still achieve the same 60,000+ seats. The money saved could be invested in the team and there would be less debt to repay. This would mean avoiding an ‘Arsenal/Emirates’ situation where we have a world class stadium in terms of facilities but wouldn’t be able to afford to heavily invest the money earned in the team as it would have to be spent repaying the debt. In addition, the sales of housing built on Arsenal’s former ground, Highbury, have now as good as stopped meaning the North London club no longer have this lucrative revenue stream to rely on.
-12th man. It would be impossible to recreate the same the atmosphere, particularly on those famous European nights, which Anfield is famous for anywhere else. The Kop is arguably the most famous stand in the world and no amount of money would be able to replicate it.
Redeveloping Anfield negatives:
- Revenue. Redeveloping Anfield would restrict the number of corporate facilities that could be built compared to a new stadium.
- Potential growth. Once Anfield has been redeveloped it will not be able to be redeveloped again. How long until 60,000 seats is no longer enough?
- Atmosphere. Building work would be taking place over the next two seasons and could affect the atmosphere as well as reducing the match day revenue.
- Naming rights. The majority would be against selling the naming rights to Anfield despite it being a potential source of £150m. Selling the naming rights to a new stadium would not draw the same opposition (the same argument applies here for sponsors of individual stands).
- Economy. Redeveloping Anfield would not help to regenerate the surrounding area or create jobs for the people of Liverpool, something that building a new stadium would do.
FSG so far have been ruthless in their decision making when it comes to football matters:
- They sacked Roy Hodgson and replaced him with Kenny Dalglish as soon as it became obvious that a change needed to be made.
- They offered Dalglish a 3 year contract when his time as caretaker manager was seen to be a resounding success.
- They backed Dalglish and Damien Comolli in the summer transfer market with a huge budget last summer.
- They sacked both Comolli and Dalglish when it became apparent that they had wasted a lot of money and were not producing good enough results.
- They carried out a thorough search when looking for a new manager and brought in Brendan Rodgers.
It is difficult to fault them when it comes to football matters, though they are still learning the game and have had to take advice from some highly respected people within the game, thought to be such figures as David Dein and Johann Cruyff.
However: FSG are business men first and foremost.
They have experience in the business of sports having taken over the Boston Red Sox and have largely been successful with them.
They also have experience in redeveloping a stadium.
It is clear that FSG are being very thorough in deciding which route to take, whether to redevelop or to build a new stadium and obviously it is paramount that they make the right decision.
But 18 months after having taken over the ownership of the club, it might have been expected that fans would have seen a bit more movement on this front, especially when you consider that former Chairman Martin Broughton said, when selling the club, that the ability to fund a new stadium would be a major factor in any bid being accepted.
FSG need to be as ruthless in making a decision on the stadium as they are when it comes to football because the longer it takes, the further Liverpool will fall behind.
Liverpool fans appreciate that the proper way to conduct business is behind closed doors and it is absolutely right that we should be informed about things when there is something to inform us about.
That said, this is people’s lives that are going to be affected.
This is more than football.
There have been complaints from the residents:
Ros Groves, chair of the local Salisbury Residents Association criticised Liverpool for not openly telling the residents what the club are now planning. Last week Ayre said Liverpool would “need to convince” residents if the club were to stay at Anfield, and said: “We’re having some great dialogue with them.”
Groves, whose association represents residents in the Baltic Street area planned for clearance nearer the Kop, said she “hit the roof” when she read that. “I cannot see how it can be called ‘great dialogue’ when Ian Ayre has been to one meeting with one residents group,” Groves said. “Everybody can see which way this is going now. We just want Liverpool football club to be open with us.”
(from the Guardian).
It is imperative that Liverpool FC communicate with the residents more openly and that they do not suddenly find out that decisions have been made on Twitter or Sky Sports News.
Fans also need to be updated when progress is made and what areas are being pursued.
For all concerned, it must be hoped that a decision is made as soon as possible, and that that decision is the right decision for Liverpool in both the immediate future—and the long term.