Further Anfield expansion ‘not smart’ – Liverpool CEO

Ian Ayre says ground development must be undertaken using right economic model

Liverpool’s redeveloped main stand at Anfield. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters.

Liverpool’s redeveloped main stand at Anfield. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters.

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Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre has said it would cost between £60m to £70m to rebuild the Anfield Road end of the stadium and described the possible 15-year repayments as “not a smart investment for the business”.

Liverpool received outline planning permission to redevelop Anfield Road and increase stadium capacity by 4,800 in September 2014 as part of its application for the new main stand.

However, the club has always stated it needed to find the right economic model before proceeding with phase two of the redevelopment and, in a meeting with Liverpool Supporters’ Committee, Ayre outlined the difficulties in expanding Anfield to a capacity of 58,500 and above.

Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owner, funded the £114m construction of the main stand with an interest-free loan. The owners expect the loan to be repaid within six years due to the number of hospitality seats, which account for approximately half of the extra 8,500 seats in the new building. Anfield Road, Ayre told LSC, would not pay for itself so quickly.

“A stand behind a goal doesn’t have the benefit of hospitality that would go a long way to meet the redevelopment costs,” said the chief executive, in minutes from the meeting. “If you consider the redevelopment of Anfield Road from a purely general admission perspective, building, say, 6,000 extra seats to take the capacity up to 60,000 would cost somewhere between £60m and £70m. At £12,000 to £13,000 per seat, it would take approximately 15 years to pay back, which is not a smart investment for the business.

‘Rounded solution’

“Therefore the club needs to find a rounded solution that’s in the best interests of the football club.”

Ayre claimed that while Liverpool were seeking the “rounded solution” to rebuild Anfield Road, the club also needed time following the construction of the main stand “to ensure that what it has put in place works, and in tandem continue with plans for Anfield Road. However, as with the main stand, the club has to find the right economic model, and only then will it be the right time to move forward.” Guardian Service

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