Anfield set to remain Reds' home
Liverpool have moved a step closer to redeveloping Anfield after formally confirming their preference is to remain at their existing home and not build a new stadium in Stanley Park.
Symbolically, on the day of Fenway Sports Group's two-year anniversary of buying the club, a definitive way forward in relation to the long-running ground issue was identified by managing director Ian Ayre.
Liverpool City Council have announced extensive plans for a regeneration of the Anfield area having secured a £25million grant with a housing association set to also invest heavily. On the back of that the club plan to push ahead with proposals to extend and improve their only home since 1892.
"Today represents a huge step forward for the Anfield area. Everyone at the football club knows the importance of today," Ayre told reporters at a press conference at Liverpool Town Hall.
"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."
He added: "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."
Redevelopment is likely to see major improvements to, and extensions of, the main stand and the Anfield Road end although that is all subject to planning permission, which has been made possible by the regeneration plans to clear some streets close to the ground, and the support of homeowners and the community.
However, redevelopment is entirely dependent on being able to get the necessary permissions to carry out the work the club want - which means a new-build on Stanley Park cannot be conclusively consigned to the wastebin until those have been secured.
One of the main reasons a new stadium did not fit the bill was the financial aspect. The club would have spent upwards of £300million and yet increased match-day capacity by only around 15,000.
Ayre added: "I know a proposition of staying at Anfield has been looked at before, but fundamentally the difference is that for the first time ever all of the relevant parties are coming together for a common initiative, and that common initiative is not for the needs of the football club but actually the needs of the community."