Latest rumours claim that NESV will be taking a decision on either redeveloping Anfield or going for a new-build option in the coming weeks. There is anxiety amongst all supporters, especially those living in Liverpool, to know what the outcome will be.
John Henry has recently stated his desire to possibly redevelop Anfield. For hopeless romantics like me, the reasoning behind this, to preserve the ‘Magic of Anfield’, is a powerful enough argument to give this option the credit it deserves. Some argue that redeveloping and/or expanding Liverpool will be more costly than building a new stadium altogether, and that the increase in capacity will not be worth the cost, but I feel that the final decision of what will be done will not take the financial aspect as the determining factor. Having made this claim, I am also sure that if NESV are seriously considering this option, then they would be confident that it would make economical sense.
Considering how NESV went about with their other prized assets’ stadium, Fenway Park (home of the Boston Red Sox), it is not difficult to see where the new owners of LFC are coming from. Preservation of heritage seems to be a high priority for them and in many ways any fan would support this way of thinking. Fenway Park is very similar to Anfield in that it is surrounded by buildings on all sides, and brining these down was not an option. NESV gave modernization priority over capacity, as the home of the Boston Red Sox is arguably the oldest baseball shrine in North America.
At Anfield, the situation is slightly more delicate and intricate. This is because for the stands to increase in capacity, they will have to go higher, but they will also need to move backward, inevitably encroaching on any structure situated in close proximity. Rumours again talk about a possible 10,000/15,000 increase in capacity bringing the total capacity up to around 60,000 (practically the same capacity as the proposed new stadium at Stanley Park which also had an option to be increased to 70,000).
Should John Henry go for the redevelopment route, then there will be the need for the entire peripheral area to be redeveloped. Housing arrangements will be a necessity. Heritage issues with some surrounding buildings may prove to be an obstacle. There is no reason why this could not be the right occasion for the entire area to be given a much needed facelift.
Moving away from Anfield would be sad, and the ‘feel’ will not be the same again. Clubs like Man Utd and Arsenal are making double the Stg 43 million Liverpool make each season from gate sales. The need for the Club to boost income will become an urgent priority once the new UEFA rules come into play. It’s really a delicate balance of capital expenditure and revenues. NESV have promised that LFC will never be burdened with debt again, and this is one promise we all would want them to keep. So at the end of the day it’s a question of keeping the Anfield heritage, allowing a bigger audience to watch our home games, going for an economically viable option that will benefit the operation of the Club in financial terms, and ultimately giving Liverpool Football Club a modern sporting venue in line with the Club’s history and the worldwide respect it commands.