Liverpool almost resigned to Anfield exit
Liverpool appears to be moving away from its preferred option of redeveloping Anfield because of the "barriers" faced in doing so.
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 has 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."