• Regeneration work could start as soon as 2014
• ‘New stadium not critical to LFC’ says John W Henry
Liverpool City Council is expected to pave the way for the redevelopment of Anfield when it announces regeneration plans for the area on Monday .
The club’s owner, John W Henry, has always preferred the option of staying at the club’s home since 1892 and a council decision to give the green light to compulsory purchase order consultations on houses near the stadium would allow for work to begin as soon as 2014.
Henry has always preferred the option of redeveloping Anfield, but the delay in making a decision has led to increasing dismay among local residents who have already seen regeneration work held up by failed plans for a new stadium under the club’s previous owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
At a meeting in May attended by Ian Ayre, the Liverpool managing director, residents living in neighbouring streets were presented with three options involving knocking down rows of houses. It is understood that at the time residents were told they could receive a price higher than market valuation as well as a 10% “home loss payment”. Though some were fearful that they may not receive enough money to afford a similar home elsewhere.
The cost of increasing the capacity is unknown but it is expected work would focus on adding an extra tier to the main stand and Anfield Road and incorporating more corporate facilities.
Henry, whose Fenway Sports Group also own the Major League Baseball team the Boston Red Sox, faced a similar situation with Fenway Park, the Red Sox’s historic home of over 100 years, and chose to redevelop it rather than move.
Henry has in the past spoken publicly about his belief that a new stadium is not critical to Liverpool’s chances of competing with their rivals and that developing the club’s brand globally is more important for increasing revenue.
“A belief has grown that Liverpool FC must have a new stadium to compete with [Manchester] United, Arsenal and others,” Henry said. “While a new stadium or an expansion of Anfield is beneficial over the long term for the club, the financial impact of adding seats and amenities should be put into perspective. That’s why I say that it is a myth that stadium issues are going to magically transform LFC’s fortunes. Building new or refurbishing Anfield is going to lead to an increase from £40m of match-day revenue to perhaps £60-70m if you don’t factor in debt service. Our future is based not on a stadium issue, but on building a strong football club that can compete with anyone in Europe. This will be principally driven financially by our commercial strengths globally.”
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