TTT

TTT: Liverpool’s Transfer Hangover

by Martin McLaughlin. NB. This is a direct follow on from the article Football and Finance, Liverpool and the Top 6 from September 2012. There is an explanation of much of the terminology at the beginning of that article and a familiarity with many of the themes raised in that article would be useful. At the start of the month the Liverpool accounts covering the year ending on May 31 2013 were released. This was supposed to be the year when all was well, FSG had slashed the wage bill, we’d break even and financial normality would finally return to Liverpool Football Club. Ahem, not exactly. Part 1 – No Longer Exceptional A loss of FIFTY MILLION, but how? Two and a half years of FSG-rule have led to cumulative losses of (deep breath) £140m. We’ve heard that the wage bill was slashed and Ian Ayre opens negotiations on transfers at £10 and a packet of crisps. It must be something else, something exceptional. Who did we fire this time? Please let it be Ian Ayre. No, no, he’s still here. It’s the stadium again isn’t it? Based on the above graph we can all rejoice. We’ve stopped sacking managers, we’ve stopped spending £60m on ghost stadium designs. We’re normal again. The annus horribilis that was 2010-2011 is clearly visible in the nearly £60m of exceptional costs which requires its own special stratospheric part of the cost scale. A tidy £10m was required for the Dalglish to Rodgers transition in 2011-2012, but we’re down to a virtually negligible £2m now. If it’s not something exceptional then what is it? Let’s get other costs (ie maintaining Anfield, offices, transport, hotels etc) out of the way first. I have previously mentioned that they tend to scale up in line with revenue and that continues to be the case. The 2012-2013 figure is 26% of revenue which is close to the 24% average. Nothing to see here. The rest of this analysis is for Subscribers only. Member-only content – you need to subscribe to read it ! A subscription costs only £3.50 per month. Find out what you get with your subscription, or Subscribe now.

Details
kopthaticon

GUARDIAN – Liverpool owner John W Henry says finance is in place for Anfield revamp

• ‘No repeat of Tom Hicks and George Gillett stadium saga’• Plans to be submitted after council buys properties near groundJohn W Henry, Liverpool’s principal owner, has said there will be no repeat of the stalled stadium projects of Tom Hicks and George Gillett because Fenway Sports Group has the financial backing to redevelop Anfield.Liverpool announced last October that plans for a new stadium on Stanley Park had been scrapped in favour of refurbishing the club’s historic home into a 60,000-capacity stadium, costing approximately £154m. Henry insists “good progress” has been made by Liverpool city council in purchasing the few remaining privately owned properties around Anfield, although a planning application will be submitted only once those deals are complete.Tom Werner, the Liverpool chairman, held further talks with council officials during a visit to Merseyside last week and the club hope a breakthrough is close in the long-running, controversial stadium saga. FSG’s predecessors, Hicks and Gillett, prolonged the delay during their near-ruinous tenure by scrapping stadium designs and then failing to secure funding for their preferred project. But Henry insists the finances are in place for FSG to redevelop Anfield, believed to be via the club’s own banking facilities, and there will be no detrimental effect on Brendan Rodgers’s transfer budget once work begins.Henry said: “They [Hicks and Gillett] were talking about going out and borrowing an enormous amount of money for an enormous facility. That’s not what we are doing here. One of their problems is that they weren’t able to get financing.”When this [project] happens, that won’t be the problem. We just need certainty with regard to these properties. The number of properties is being reduced. The city council is doing everything they can and that’s all we can ask. Not just the city council but Your Housing [a social housing developer] and everyone associated with this are all on the same page. The regeneration as well; we’re all on the same page.”No plans have been unveiled for the refurbished Anfield, although it is understood to involve a new main stand and Anfield Road end being built behind the existing structures to minimise the impact on revenue. Asked if the work would have an effect on team rebuilding, Henry responded: “No, because it will pay for itself. It’s actually a positive. It’s one of the reasons we are doing it. It still provides excess cash. This is the direction that makes financial sense for the club in the long term.” Liverpool initially hoped to apply for planning permission this spring but a handful of home owners have not agreed a deal with the city council and Your Housing.”That’s why we are where we are,” confirmed Henry. Compulsory purchase orders remain an option, should the impasse continue, but legal disputes would add to the stadium delay and FSG want a resolution soon.”We are making good progress,” added Henry. “We have a lot of different groups working very well together and having everybody on the same page is the key to a big project like this happening and pretty much everyone is on the same page. The obstacles are not completely out of the way but we seem to be moving in that direction. The obstacles are being overcome. We don’t have all the houses but we are making progress.”Liverpool’s principal owner insisted he could not place a timeframe on a planning application for Anfield. He said: “We’ve always said you have to have certainty with regards to the properties because of the height of the stands and all the issues regarding that. That has been the biggest issue. We need certainty on that.”LiverpoolJohn W HenryFenway Sports GroupBrendan RodgersAndy Huntertheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Details
kopthaticon

TTT: Have Liverpool Progressed Under FSG?

By Si Steers. Liverpool FC is approaching almost three years of ownership under Fenway Sports Group; so how far have the club progressed since FSG took over in 2010? There is a hybrid of opinion on our current owners, so this analysis of FSG’s tenure to date is informed by a survey completed by Liverpool supporters. The survey was split into key areas that all influence perception of the owners, including: –         Investment in the squad –         The stadium solution –         Club structure –         Commercial growth –         Overall direction and progress To get an accurate snapshot of supporter perception, Twitter was used as the mechanism to send out the survey. Pushing out the survey through Twitter was an attempt to gain as broad a view as possible; and thanks to the Anfield Wrap and other well known fan sites for helping to achieve a really good response. The survey was closed at 1129 overall responses. The reason for this was that the target data pool for completion was 1000 which provides an indicative guide to supporter views. The results are as follows: The headline figure tells us that overall, 73% of respondents believe that we have progressed under FSG. That is a fairly impressive number, given that the club has struggled at times to move forward as quickly as supporters would like. 18% believe that the club has stagnated, which is in some ways a fair perception, given that our league position has remained similar since 2011. But what is encouraging is that the majority of supporters appear to have looked beyond the aesthetic picture when determining progress. There has been a great deal of work at the club in building a foundation, and working from the bottom up to build a sustainable club. Only 3% of respondents believe that the club has regressed under FSG; there have been a number of mistakes since FSG took over, so that is not a position without any basis. But it is fair to say that supporter perception is that the club has moved forward. Over 50% of respondents believe that we are heading in the right direction under FSG, working towards a sustainable future. The self sustainability message can be a difficult one to sell, but it is the preferred option for many supporters. 37% believe we are heading in the right direction, but it is too slow. The pace of progress has often been a sense of frustration for supporters, and has created frustration with the owners. But the reality is that progress has been stalled by a mix of inherited long term issues (such as a financial basket case and bad player contracts) and a series of mistakes that have been a consequence of ‘learning on the job’. Both of those issues that have plagued the club since 2010 are now becoming less problematic, the decision-making and leadership at the club seems to be far better (as demonstrated so far in the Suarez affair), and the club’s finances are now in recovery following the Hicks and Gillett period. Overall 87% of supporters agree that the club is going in the right direction under FSG. 9% don’t know the direction the club is heading in, which hints that more coherent and better communication may help, whilst only 3% think the club is going in the wrong direction. The appointment of Brendan Rodgers has possibly been one of the most divisive decisions take so far by FSG. Whether it was the man coming in or the sacking of a legend that influenced those immediate perceptions is open to debate. Over 50% of respondents believe that Rodgers is the man for the job, whilst another 44% think it is too early to make a judgement. That is an interesting group; Rodgers continues to handle himself like a Liverpool manager, and if he can get it right on the pitch this season he will win over many of those still sceptical. Only 5% of respondents believe that Rodgers is too young and inexperienced to be Liverpool manager. It will be difficult for Rodgers to win over that group, but he is continuing to grow as a manager, and it looks like the majority of supporters are behind him, with a further group he will win over if he continues on the same trajectory. The headline figure shows that over 78% of respondents believe that the club are spending what they earn under FSG. Broken down further, 44% of that group feel that whilst we are spending what we earn, FSG need to invest more (deficit spend) so that we don’t fall further behind our rivals. This is possibly the biggest difficulty facing FSG. Since acquiring the club, they have already had to provide an additional £45m as an intercompany loan to prop up the last set of accounts. That takes the initial investment up to almost £350m – which is probably what the club is worth right now, and that is at a stretch. Deficit spending is a big black hole. There is no guarantee that spending vast amounts of money will make you successful. Over 21% of respondents said that they were not clear where the club’s profit goes. Well, the simple reason for that is since FSG took over the club hasn’t made a profit. Profit is what you have left when you have paid your bills, including wages (which took up 70% of total revenue for year one of FSG ownership). Hopefully the next set of accounts will show a real improvement in the club’s finances; and year-on-year the club will become financially more able to invest in the right quality of player. But deficit spending is only an option for equity rich owners (or sugar daddies) – if FFP does its job, then it will eventually put us back on a level playing field. Overall over 84% of respondents believe we have the right structure at the club with the new committee. 60% believe that it is working in its current guise, whilst 24.5% think it would benefit from a figure head such as a Sporting Director or Director of Football. 8.3% retain the view that the structure doesn’t work, and that the manager should be responsible for transfers. 7.2% believe that the new structure will make no difference to success or failure. The reality is that in the absence of vast financial resources, it is the committee’s job to provide the club with a competitive advantage. They have the role of sourcing the right quality at the right cost; identifying players like Coutinho. The success of the committee is essentially going to determine our success on the pitch in the short-medium term. There is a fairly pragmatic response from supporters to the question of commercial growth; with 94% agreeing that if you want to be self-sustainable and compete then you need to leverage all of your revenue streams. But there is a voice that needs to be heard. 6% of supporters believe that the club is moving too far towards global growth and losing its local identity. We saw incredible scenes in Jakarta, Melbourne and Bangkok during the Liverpool tour, with atmospheres that put Anfield to shame. There is perhaps a reason for that; local fans are maybe feeling detached from the club. Whilst we have an incredible global support, it is the people of Liverpool that give the club its identity. Finding the right balance between a local and global presence is an important issue for the club. Initiatives such as the recent open training day at Anfield and more tickets for children at Anfield are both steps in the right direction. The answer is a resounding yes. 91% of respondents believe that redevelopment is the right way to go. It is only recently that redevelopment has become an option for the club; and supporters look to be behind the plan to stay at Anfield. 9% of supporters believe that Anfield redevelopment is the wrong way to go, and that perhaps a new stadium is the solution. But the biggest barrier to a new stadium is cost. As John Henry has said, it makes little economic sense to build a new stadium for an extra 15,000 seats. Anfield redevelopment obviously has to come with some provisos, such as investment in regeneration and infrastructure. But the opportunity to stay at our spiritual home is a plan that looks to have the backing of supporters. Only 21% of respondents would welcome a ‘sugar daddy’ type owner at Liverpool. It would be interesting to see whether that would replicate at other clubs. Over 43% of respondents are happy with FSG as owners, which is a sign that people believe in the ambition behind the rhetoric. 34.2% would like to see the club supporter-owned. I think supporter ownership has to be the ultimate ambition for Liverpool, but there are very real reasons why now is not the right time. Essentially if the club was supporter-owned it would be following the same direction it is under FSG. Right now what the club needs is stability and strategy. It needs to build its foundations as a sustainable business so that the football team can flourish. That is where FSG can be good owners; they will build the club so that it becomes a sustainable entity. Supporter ownership is fraught with the same issues and barriers that FSG face, and would still require a management hierarchy that make decisions not everybody would agree with. Supporter ownership should be an aim for one day in the future, but the present owners are doing the right things to make us sustainable if and when it ever happens. Only 4% of respondents believe that we cannot succeed under FSG. Whilst that viewpoint shouldn’t be discarded, as there are many reasons why we may not succeed under FSG, the majority of respondents feel that we can succeed, or it is too early to know either way. 57% of respondents feel that we can succeed under FSG, but it is going to be a long journey and we are going to need to be patient. 28% take the view it is possible, but it is going to be difficult. Somewhere in the middle of those two is probably the right answer. There are no guarantees in football, all you can do is continue to build and try to take the right decisions that will move you forward. The reality is that if FSG can realise our commercial potential, we can become competitive financially, which will mean we can grow at a faster pace on the pitch. In the short term we have to try and be smart; building from a foundation of youth and relying on the transfer committee to source gems like Coutinho. We are doing all the right things, but we will need a bit of luck along the way as well. ‘So 3% think we’re going in the wrong direction eh John?’ ‘I’ll take that Tom … and we know where they live.’ Conclusion This was intended to be a snapshot survey of Liverpool supporters’ perceptions and views on progress under FSG. It was conducted before the end of the transfer window so that perception of overall progress wasn’t unduly influenced by one transfer window. Twitter was used as the mechanism to get a wide range of views; but of course, this survey is only meant to be indicative and is not meant to be fully representative of the fan base. The perception amongst the majority of respondents seems to be favourable to the direction the club are taking under FSG. There are of course real concerns about the speed of progress, and not everything the club is doing sits comfortably with all fans. But if the views represented in the survey are in any way indicative; it is promising that there appears to be a good sense of unity behind the club, which is good to see considering the turmoil the fan base has been through. Thanks to everyone who completed the survey, further analysis will be in the discussion thread for subscribers.

Details
kopthaticon

GUARDIAN – Anfield: the victims, the anger and Liverpool’s shameful truth | David Conn

Policy of buying up houses around the stadium and leaving them empty has driven the local area into dreadful declineIn the blighted streets around Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, residents are packing up and leaving their family homes, so the football club can have them demolished and expand their Main Stand. In the six months since the club scrapped their decade-long plan to build a new stadium on Stanley Park, and reverted to expanding Anfield instead, Liverpool city council has been seeking to buy these neighbours’ homes, backed by the legal threat of compulsory purchase.People’s farewells are bitter, filled with anger and heartbreak at the area’s dreadful decline and at the club for deepening the blight by buying up houses since the mid-1990s then leaving them empty. A few residents are refusing to move, holding out against the council, which begins negotiations with low offers. These homeowners believe they should be paid enough not only to buy a new house but to compensate for the years of dereliction, stagnation and decline, and crime, fires, vandalism, even murders which have despoiled the area. Their resentment is compounded by the fact that they are being forced to move so that Liverpool, and their relatively new US owner, Fenway Sports Group, can make more money.On Lothair Road, which backs on to the Anfield Main Stand, one man who lived next door to a house Liverpool own and have left empty, shuttered – “tinned up” as the locals call it – shook his head. “I’m not moving out,” he told the Guardian, “I’ve been driven out.”Residents’ bitterness derives from when the club started buying houses in Lothair Road, without saying they were doing so or making their intentions clear. The club used an agency to approach some residents, while some houses were bought by third parties then sold on quickly to the club. That left residents with the belief, which has endured ever since, that Liverpool were buying up houses by stealth, to keep prices low.The club have never publicly explained in detail what they did, and declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about their historic behaviour and current plans. Neighbours, many of whom have lived in Anfield for decades, remembering a vibrant, flourishing area, believe Liverpool bought and left houses empty to deliberately blight the area, intending it would prompt people to leave and drive house prices down.Howard Macpherson, now 52, was the first to sell his house on Lothair Road to the club, in 1996. He had lived there, at No 39, a four-bedroom end terrace, for 10 years. Macpherson says it was a fine home, which he had spent money refurbishing, but after Liverpool bought it they always left it empty – now for 17 years.”Anfield was a good area, all the houses occupied, nothing like it is today,” says Macpherson, who runs a garage, Aintree Motors. “The area started to decline in the early 1990s with the city’s economic problems. But Liverpool football club accelerated the decline, by leaving good houses empty and boarded up. It wasn’t a natural decline; it was engineered.”The involvement in the process of a notorious solicitor, Kevin Dooley, acting for the club, did not encourage confidence. Dooley, who acted for several Liverpool players and the convicted drug baron Curtis Warren as well as the club before he died in 2004, was struck off by the Law Society in 2002 after it found him guilty of being involved in fraudulent purported bank schemes.Liverpool were motivated to buy neighbouring houses by a fear of losing pre-eminence in English football after their mighty playing success and financial dominance of the 1970s and 80s. The club felt bruised by having been delayed in building the new Centenary Stand because of two elderly sisters, Joan and Nora Mason, who refused to leave their house at No 26 Kemlyn Road, until November 1990. Manchester United entered the super-commercialised Premier League era by floating on the stock market in 1991, raising £6.7m to seat the Stretford End, and with Old Trafford’s ceaseless, lucrative expansion and Sir Alex Ferguson’s team-building, Liverpool fell behind United’s money-making capacity.The club turned their attention to expanding the Main and Anfield Road stands, although they did not announce this intention or discuss it openly with residents. The Main Stand backs tightly on to the terraced row of odd numbers on Lothair Road. Liverpool began buying houses in 1996, mostly leaving them empty. Land Registry records reveal that between January 1996 and March 2000, Liverpool bought 10 houses on Lothair Road.Most were on the odd side, closest to the Main Stand: Nos 1, 3, 7, 9, 15, 33, 35 and Macpherson’s No 39. In March 1999 Liverpool made their first purchase across the road, on the even side, No 16. That row is not needed for a bigger Main Stand itself, but the residents, and those in the row behind on Alroy Road, would have their right to light blocked by it, a major obstacle to planning permission. In March 2000 Liverpool bought No 10 Lothair Road. That house, like most Liverpool bought, was never again occupied, has been empty for 13 years and is “tinned up”.Liverpool also bought houses on Anfield Road: grander Victorian piles with front gardens, backing on to Stanley Park; almost the whole row opposite the stand, Shankly gates and Hillsborough memorial: 51, 53, 55, 61, 63, 69 and 71. These houses were also left mostly empty and allowed to fall into disrepair.With houses empty and demand for them falling in a city struggling to recover from its 1980s economic decimation, the Anfield area collapsed into dramatic decline. Alongside Liverpool football club, family homes and private landlords, the main other property owner was Your Housing, a large group of housing associations, then called Arena. It also began to leave properties “tinned up” – 265 were empty in the wider Anfield area by 2011. Residents complain that as the area was blighted, problem tenants moved in, bringing crime and antisocial behaviour.Liverpool’s secret plan to get houses knocked down and expand the stadium, which the residents had suspected from the beginning, was exposed by a local free newspaper in September 1999. The club, with the council and Arena, had produced Anfield Plus, a plan to demolish both rows of houses on Lothair Road, the one on Alroy Road backing on to Lothair, and those on Anfield Road, for two enlarged stands. In the wider area, 1,800 properties were designated for demolition. A food, drink and retail area was planned on a cleared corner across from the Kop and Centenary Stand. New social housing, shops, a supermarket and community centre were also envisaged.Shock at such a plan being conceived without discussion with residents produced an outcry. The council did not support the plan with compulsory purchase threats but instead embarked on a consultation process. Rick Parry, Liverpool’s then chief executive, acknowledged the club were seeking a bigger Anfield to compete financially with Manchester United, but said nevertheless: “I believe we can also work much better with the community, be a good neighbour.”In the intense, often fraught discussions with residents, some progress was slowly made. New homes were built or renovated, including the Skerries Road terrace, behind Kemlyn Road, which Liverpool had previously bought up and left blighted. Two health centres have been built and the new Four Oaks primary school and North Liverpool Academy. Yet Lothair Road, Alroy and Anfield Road, on which the club had set their sights, were left to rot.While the Premier League, its club owners, players, managers and agents were growing rich on pay-TV millions, right around one of its most revered clubs there was squalor and horror. The many empty houses were vandalised, robbed, stripped, set on fire. People living next door to Liverpool’s tinned-up houses told the club they feared waking up in the night to find them ablaze. Still, the club did not put tenants in them. Some people began to move out, their houses’ value having tumbled, but many good people stayed, determined not to be forced out.Liverpool’s switch to a plan for a wholly new stadium on Stanley Park came partly out of the post-Anfield Plus community consultation. In one meeting, Parry looked at a map and was struck by how hemmed in by houses the ground would still be, even if expanded. Yet even as the plans developed over years, many residents did not believe Liverpool would ever build a new stadium. Partly this was because even after all the outcry over Anfield Plus, Liverpool still bought houses on Lothair Road, including No10.In October 1999, 33 Lothair Road, owned by Liverpool and unoccupied, was set on fire, filling the house of the elderly couple who lived next door with smoke and soot. Residents say that three people were killed, set alight, in a horrific incident, in a house further along Lothair Road. A woman reported to be renting on Lothair Road who worked as a prostitute was murdered, in 2001.A Lothair Road resident, who did not want to be named because he is in negotiations with the council to finally leave, recalled his elderly father going out to fill a coal bucket from the old-fashioned scuttle under the front steps. Two tenants who had moved in across the road threw a brick at his father’s head. The resident went across the road, banged on both doors, and roared at them to come out, which they did not.”These are some of the drastic things we’ve had to do,” he said, talking on his doorstep. “I brought three children up here. If Liverpool had been honest from the beginning, said they wanted our houses to expand their ground, we’re realistic, we know they’re a huge football club, most of us support them, deals could have been done. Instead they were underhand, blighted the area and we’ve had to live like this for years.”The sorry saga of how the new stadium plans turned to dust was played out in public, while residents suffered stagnation and wreckage. The club had continued to buy houses on Anfield Road: No 65 in 2001, 47, 49 and 67 in 2007. Parry and the then majority shareholder, David Moores, believed they needed rich owners to stand behind the borrowing required for a new stadium, which could have been built in the early 2000s for perhaps £140m. It took years before finally in 2007 they sold the club for £179m to the Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Moores personally made £89m.Hicks famously promised “a spade in the ground” and work to begin on the new stadium in 60 days, but he and Gillett had borrowed the money to buy the club and were planning to borrow for the stadium too, then could not. Under pressure from Royal Bank of Scotland, in October 2010 Hicks and Gillett were forced by court order to sell the club, John Henry’s FSG paying the £200m price of the RBS debt.FSG, which renovated the Boston Red Sox stadium, Fenway Park, rather than build a new one, suggested from the beginning it might scrap the new stadium plan as too expensive. In October, Liverpool’s managing director, Ian Ayre, confirmed that, describing the intention to go back to expanding Anfield as “a great leap forward”.FSG’s current plan envisages expanding the Main and Anfield Road stands, with both sides of Lothair Road, and one side of Alroy Road, demolished. A hotel is proposed behind the enlarged Main Stand on the footprint of Lothair Road’s even side and Alroy, because a commercial property does not have the same right to light as homes. A development, probably bars and restaurants, with training promised for young people, is proposed opposite the corner of the Kop and Centenary Stand. With Liverpool having purchased a whole row on Anfield Road, they have already knocked those houses down, so there is no obstacle to enlarging that stand.This FSG plan, then, is strikingly similar to Anfield Plus, which was worked up in 1999, then put on hold for 13 years in favour of the new stadium proposal.Ruth Little, of the Anfield and Breckfield community council, says: “After people suffered so much, from the football club and Your Housing leaving properties empty and blighting the area, when they went back to the original plan I did wonder what the last 12 years of consultation have been for.”A lot of good work has been done, though, much of it by local people volunteering. At least we have some certainty now, and we have to make sure that the people who are left are treated with respect.”Reports on that are mixed. While many homeowners have sold their houses over the years for little, the council’s final offers now are more generous. Some residents have settled for around £80,000, more than the houses would have fetched on the market in such blighted conditions, and the council is also providing interest-free loans. This enables those who own their own homes to buy another similar house without taking on a new mortgage.However, several people accuse the council, which is negotiating via agents, of starting with low offers, forcing people in difficult circumstances to negotiate hard or be seriously disadvantaged.Bill Higham, who owns 25 Alroy Road, says he was offered £55,000, which he refused outright, for a house he has had to refurbish twice after it was seriously vandalised.”I find it disgraceful,” he says. “After the way the area has been run down, I’m being forced out and they want the properties for a song. They could pay everybody up, properly, for less than one Liverpool player’s wage.”Bill McGarry, vice-chair of the Anfield Rockfield Triangle residents’ association, a qualified town planner, has helped some residents negotiate with the council. Patrick Duggan, chair of Artra, is an ardent critic of the club, whom he vehemently accuses of running the area down. Duggan runs Epstein House, a refurbished hotel in the old Anfield Road family home of the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein. Duggan bought it for £450,000, partly, he says, because Liverpool were building a new stadium which would regenerate the area. He has been shocked instead to find the area’s degradation, then felt betrayed when FSG scrapped the new stadium plan.”I have always been a Liverpool fan,” says Duggan, who has mounted a campaign targeting Ayre. “They play ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ but they have left their neighbours to walk alone for years.”Paddy McKay, 58, a builder who has lived for 37 years on Walton Breck Road, is refusing to accept the council’s offer. He and his wife Carol brought up three daughters there; he has paid his mortgage off in full and argues that, if he is forced to move, he should be paid enough to buy a similar house somewhere decent and compensation for the years of blight. Even now, antisocial behaviour is continuing on those streets, including house fires.”Liverpool FC have said they want to be good neighbours? They’re the world’s worst neighbours; they couldn’t care less,” McKay says. “After all the damage they have done to the area, they should do the decent thing by the residents.”James McKenna, chair of the Spirit of Shankly supporters’ union, says the fans have sympathy for the club’s neighbours. “The stadium expansion is all about the club making more money, and fans will have to pay more for tickets,” McKenna says. “To do that, Liverpool have played a part in derelict houses, streets boarded up. It’s a blot on LFC’s record.”A council spokesman declined to discuss details of the house-buying process. “Since last autumn we have been developing a robust set of plans for the area which are absolutely on track,” he said. “This will include working with the local community on a blueprint for the wider regeneration of Anfield.”Brian Cronin, chief executive of Your Housing, defended his organisation’s property stewardship in the area and said the group has invested more than £23m in refurbishments or new homes around Anfield since 2009. Your Housing has 22 properties on Lothair, Alroy and Sybil Roads behind the Main Stand, of which 12 “are long-term vacant”. Cronin said: “We are currently working very closely with Liverpool city council and other partners in Anfield to establish the best long-term future for these properties as part of the wider regeneration of the area.”Liverpool declined to comment but last month Ayre updated the Liverpool Daily Post, saying: “To extend Anfield, we need to acquire a bunch of privately owned property around the stadium. We’re making really good progress with that. We said some months back it would take several months to improve that property acquisition situation. We’re definitely on target so far.”Once the properties are bought, Ayre said, the club will apply for planning permission. After that, the third challenge is to “build the thing”.He told the Guardian in October that an expanded Anfield with a 60,000 capacity will not allow cheaper tickets; its aim is to make more money. Liverpool have employed PricewaterhouseCoopers to survey fans, and corporate customers, to help plan price brackets for the new facilities.Some fans wonder if FSG, which is quite remote as owner, with Henry hardly in Liverpool and progress slow and costly, may sell the club, particularly once planning permission has been secured. FSG and Henry have not said that is a possibility. The stated plan is to expand the ground and enable Liverpool to compete again by making more money, so attracting better players by offering them huge wages on a par with the other top clubs.Liverpool’s remaining neighbours, suffering some of Britain’s worst living conditions, are grappling with hardball offers, to have their houses knocked down and make way for it all. In the Premier League of the 21st century, this is Anfield.LiverpoolFinancesBusinessDavid Connguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Details