Liverpool have received a boost in their bid to redevelop Anfield with news that planning issues surrounding an extension could be overcome.
The Reds’ American owners Fenway Sports Group are believed to have long favoured remodelling the historic ground, citing the lack of value in a new stadium given the relatively minor improvement in gate receipts it would yield.
The Boston-based sports consortium also chose this path with another of their sports teams, the Boston Red Sox, refurbishing their 100-year-old Fenway Park upon taking control of the club.
And Liverpool council’s assistant director for regeneration, Mark Kitts, has now confirmed that expansion of Anfield is possible, if the streets behind the Main Stand can be cleared of houses.
“We have been working with the club very closely,” he told The Guardian.
“And they have said this [the clearing of three rows of terraces behind the Main Stand] will accommodate their needs if they stay at Anfield and refurbish the current stadium.
“My understanding is that this will solve the right to light issues.”
A compulsory purchase order would need to be in effect to allow the council to repossess the three rows of terraced properties in need of removal.
Last week, Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre admitted the club would ‘need to convince’ residents that extension work would not block light to any remaining houses, adding: “We’re having some great dialogue with them.”
However, Ros Groves, the chair of the local Salisbury Residents Association, insisted that this was not the case and called on the club to improve communication.
She said: “I cannot see how it can be called ‘great dialogue’ when Ian Ayre has been to one meeting with one residents group.
“Everybody can see which way this is going now. We just want Liverpool Football Club to be open with us.”
And, following The Guardian’s revelations, Liverpool city council swiftly moved to deny that any decision has been made regarding the redevelopment of Anfield.
A statement on the council’s official Twitter account late on Thursday read: “Anfield housing plans are not indicative of #LFC stadium. No decision has yet been made. #unhelpful.”
Meanwhile, the club have refused to comment on the matter, stating: “The private discussions and plans that Liverpool Football Club has or may have with residents or other stakeholders are, in our opinion, exactly that, ‘private’.”
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