Anfield stay unlikely for Reds

The club’s managing director Ian Ayre admitted taking the capacity

of Anfield up to 60,000 would come at a “significantly lower cost”

than the other option of building a new stadium from scratch at

nearby Stanley Park, but other bureaucratic issues are making it

“increasingly unlikely” that the club will be able to move forward

with a redevelopment. Ayre told the club’s official website: “In

the nine months since the new ownership, an enormous amount of work

has been undertaken in conjunction with leading architects,

consultants, other industry experts and with Liverpool City Council

to explore the building of a new stadium as well as exploring a

refurbishment solution that could deliver the necessary growth in

capacity, whilst maintaining the heritage and atmosphere that make

Anfield uniquely Liverpool FC. “However, with land/property

acquisition, environmental and statutory issues creating barriers

to our ambition, it looks increasingly unlikely there is any way we

can move forward on a refurbishment of Anfield unless there are

significant changes in those areas.” The club have long been

looking at ways to increase capacity in order to better compete

with the matchday revenues of Manchester United and Arsenal, with

Ayre saying earlier this month that the failure of previous owners

Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s to deliver on their promise of a new

stadium had “set the club back several years”. However, it now

looks as though the new owners will not be able to move quickly on

a decision over whether to stay at Anfield or start work at the

Stanley Park site, and are determined not to make promises that

cannot be kept. Ayre’s statement continued: “We are mindful that

supporters have been promised a solution in the past and have been

disappointed, and also that local residents would like to know what

direction we are headed in. “However, just like any other business,

we can only proceed as and when we are clear on all elements and we

will not be forced to make a decision that is not in the best

long-term interests of our club and we will not make any promises

to our fans that we cannot keep. We will continue to work

diligently on this project and keep our fans informed of any

progress. “It’s disappointing that based on where we are at the

moment, we seem to be unable to press on with the more viable

economic option of a refurbishment, but we remain committed to

finding the best possible long-term solution. “We already have a

very healthy dialogue in place with several leading brands

regarding naming rights for a new stadium, but like every major

deal we have ever done, that just takes time to explore in full. We

also have ongoing discussions with various parties around the

financing of either facility. “Our challenge now is to try to find

a way to bring all of those elements together in a solution that is

in the best interests of Liverpool Football Club and its fans.”