Liverpool chief warns against further Anfield expansion, describing it as ‘not smart’
Liverpool’s chief executive, Ian Ayre, has warned that current plans to further expand Anfield are “not a smart investment for the business.”
The club was granted planning permission in September 2014 to redevelop their iconic stadium and the surrounding area as part of a two-stage construction project that is expected to cost in the region of £260m.
The first part of the redevelopment was completed for the start of the new season as the club unveiled a newly redesigned main stand, with an increased capacity of 8,500 seats.
But executive Ayre cautioned against plans to expand Anfield Road – the second part of the club's development project.
“A stand behind a goal doesn’t have the benefit of hospitality that would go a long way to meet the redevelopment costs,” Ayre said in a meeting with the Liverpool Supporters’ Committee (LSC).
“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. Therefore the club needs to find a rounded solution that’s in the best interests of the football club.”
Although construction for Liverpool’s new stand cost £114m, the owners expect such a figure to be paid off within six years due to the number of hospitality seats in place, which account for approximately half the additional 8,500 seats in the stand.
As Ayre pointed out, Anfield Road would not be able to pay for itself so quickly.
It was suggested at the meeting that Liverpool supporters could themselves invest in the anticipated £60m-£70m costs of a new Anfield Road stand.
Graham Smith, a fan representative on the LSC, said: “There are people who would think a 15-year return would make sense, and that’s the supporters. The supporters would fund such a development up front if the club made an appeal for financial support.”
But while Ayre claimed that the club were seeking a “rounded solution” to see out the next stage in the stadium’s redevelopment, the executive also suggested that the club needed time to “ensure that what it has put in place works…the club has to find the right economic model, and only then will it be the right time to move forward”.