Thursday 22 February 2018

Ayre expects Anfield progress

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre expects the next step in the redevelopment of Anfield will be completed this summer. Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre expects the next step in the redevelopment of Anfield will be completed this summer. Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Carl Markham

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre expects the next step in the redevelopment of Anfield will be completed this summer.

After announcing in October their intention to stay at their current ground rather than build a new one on Stanley Park the club have been working to buy up properties in the streets bordering the stadium.

It has been a controversial issue, with some remaining residents claiming to have been neglected during the period of uncertainty over the plans and also not being offered the right price for their homes.

Until they have acquired all the relevant houses no planning application to extend the Main Stand and Anfield Road can be submitted but Ayre expects the first part of the equation to be completed in the next few months.

"We are in an interesting period in terms of our aspirations around the stadium," he said.

"Our goal is to extend Anfield but we need certainty and that comes with the acquisition of properties.

"Real progress has been made in acquiring them. Once they have all been acquired we will go through the planning process.

"We would expect to be in a position to make that a certainty this summer.

"Once planning has been achieved then we can start construction."

An expanded stadium of 60,000 will boost matchday revenue and allow the Reds to close some of the financial ground on their rivals.

And with new Financial Fair Play rules - a requirement of which is that clubs must break even over a three-year period to be involved in European competition - kicking in next season, Ayre believes that will help them further.

"We are very supportive of FFP for a number of reasons," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"One is we believe you should only spend what you earn. We want there to be as level a playing field as possible.

"We are in a very fortunate position in that we generate some of the biggest revenues in football despite having not been as successful on the pitch as we would have liked in recent years.

"We also have a huge fan base around the world. We've sold 100,000 tickets at the MCG in Australia this summer and there has been a similar demand for tickets for the other pre-season tour matches in Jakarta and Bangkok.

"That bodes well in an FFP environment. The real challenge for UEFA is to ensure the rules are applied correctly.

"It's only going to work effectively if there are sanctions for those who don't abide by them."

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