Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group have reaffirmed their commitment to redeveloping the club’s Anfield home.
The Reds’ lengthy battle with Liverpool City Council over the necessary demolition of nearby housing appears to have reached an amicable conclusion, though specific announcements regarding an increase in capacity will not be made until a later date.
And managing director Ian Ayre revealed Liverpool have been working closely with the council in order to reach a solution which will help regenerate the entire Anfield area.
“Today represents a huge step forward for the Anfield area. Everyone at the football club knows the importance of today,” Ayre told reporters on Monday.
“We welcome the opportunity to be part of this partnership – we want to thank Joe Anderson (mayor of Liverpool) and the council for the time and the support they’ve given us to help make the right decision.
“LFC celebrated its 120th year in 2012 at Anfield and there is no doubt Anfield is the spiritual home of the club – our preference was always to remain at Anfield.
“This is a major step forward for the football club but more importantly the residents.
“This is step one as there is land to acquire, plans to be approved etc, but this is a significant moment.
“Questions about capacity and cost are not for today – not until we have certainty.”
Ayre, who remained keen to insist that an Anfield stay is as yet not a certainty, also claimed that staying put was a more economically viable option than building a new stadium.
“If you build a new stadium, for example, one of the big challenges is that, depending on the capacity, you build 15,000 or 16,000 new seats – you don’t get 60,000 new seats in a new stadium, you only get the difference,” he told the club’s official website.
“That makes it very difficult to make it viable because the cost of building such a big new stadium doesn’t work economically, particularly in this market, so one of the things we had to look at was the balance between that solution and a staying at Anfield type solution, and the work we’ve done on that showed us that as long as we could find the right solution to stay at Anfield and get through the barriers and hurdles that we needed, we would have to find the best long-term solution for the club that had sustainability and worked economically.”
The Anfield Road and Main Stand areas of the historic ground are believed to have been marked out for refurbishment, in order to bring the stadium’s capacity up to around 60,000 – in line with Liverpool’s rivals at the top end of the Premier League.
The Merseyside outfit hope to begin the restoration work in 2014.
The announcement brings an end to links with a vacant plot of land on nearby Stanley Park, where the Reds had previously planned to build a new stadium for which plans have been written off at the cost of 35 million pounds.
Principal owner John W Henry had repeatedly spoken of his desire to refurbish Anfield following FSG’s takeover – two years ago to the day – citing concern over the escalating cost of a new build for the relatively small reward of just 15,000 extra seats.
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