Wednesday 22 November 2017

Liverpool insist redevelopment of Anfield will increase transfer kitty

Carl Markham

LIVERPOOL managing director Ian Ayre insists a multi-million redevelopment of Anfield will enhance the club's transfer market spending power and not diminish it.

On the second anniversary of Fenway Sports Group's purchase of the Reds, Ayre formally confirmed their intention to remain at their current home and not pursue a new build project in Stanley Park.

That decision was made on the back of Liverpool City Council announcing extensive plans for a regeneration of the Anfield area with a housing association set to also invest heavily.

Redevelopment of the Main Stand and Anfield Road end is likely to cost an estimated £150million and while nothing has been forthcoming as yet on how this money will be procured Ayre said it would not impact on football matters.

"As we've said, the right solution is the right economic solution," Ayre told liverpoolfc.com.

"More so from it detracting from our spending in the transfer market, the whole point of doing this is to actually increase our revenues.

"If we look at our biggest competitors with a bigger capacity, like Manchester United, Arsenal, their matchday revenues are significantly ahead of ours.

"This whole initiative is designed to generate additional revenues so the ultimate solution has to be one that increases the overall output through the process rather than decreasing it.

"We'll find the right financing solution, the right return on investment to deliver the right amount of additional revenue to support the long-term future of the football club."

Match-day revenues will be significantly increased by bigger crowds and the financial reality was that it could be achieved more cheaply on the current site - Liverpool's home since 1892.

"We need a much-increased capacity and it has to be one that is right for the club going forward," Ayre told the Liverpool Echo.

"We could have achieved that in a new stadium but the cost of doing so would have been at least double what we expect to spend by staying put.

"We would have been making very big payments - servicing the loans involved in building a brand new stadium - for very many years into the future.

"That would have hampered our ability to spend money where we, and the supporters, want to see it spent: in buying and developing top players to allow us to continue to compete successfully at the very highest levels in Britain and Europe.

"This option gives us much more chance of generating the revenues we need in a sensible and practical way - and of course of accommodating many more fans who want to come and watch us play."

Remaining at Anfield and not building a new ground, costing upwards of £300million, was always the owners preferred option.

FSG have a history of updating historic old stadiums as they did a similar thing at Fenway Park, home to baseball's Boston Red Sox, and they will now look to do the same on Merseyside.

Redevelopment, made possible by the regeneration plans to clear some streets close to the ground, is subject to planning permission and the support of homeowners and the community - which means plans for a new-build stadium cannot be conclusively consigned to the wastebin until those have been secured.

But planning applications to raise capacity to 60,000 are likely to be submitted next year with building potentially beginning in 2014.

"LFC celebrated its 120th year in 2012 at Anfield and there is no doubt Anfield is the spiritual home of the club - our preference was always to remain at Anfield," added Ayre.

"But today is just the start really and there are so many other issues still to discuss and resolve, so many consultations and processes to go through, that we are not absolutely guaranteeing things. We can't.

"Certainly we are not setting unrealistic deadlines or talking about overambitious or fanciful timescales.

"Neither is the club taking anything or anyone for granted - especially the residents of Anfield - and we certainly don't want our fans to be misled or misinformed."

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