Liverpool Football Club has once again declared its intention to continue the renovation of Anfield with the next phase of development set to be around the Anfield Road stand.
Following the success of the new Main Stand, Fenway Sports Group confirmed their commitment to further increase the capacity of Anfield and initial plans were drawn up, however, these plans that were submitted alongside those of the new Main Stand, become void next month. The original planning application only sought to raise the capacity of Anfield to just over 58,000, but according to reports, the fresh application will aim to ensure Anfield’s capacity goes beyond 60,000.
Despite being one of the most iconic stadiums in world football, Anfield remains very much behind the times with regards to its capacity and infrastructure in the surrounding areas. Liverpool’s main rivals for the title of England’s biggest club, Manchester United, boast a stadium with the ability to house 76,000 spectators, which is light years ahead of Anfield and given that Liverpool can lay claim to having a similar number of supporters, there is a disproportionate amount of fans unable to visit Mecca to watch The Reds in action.
A case in point of this takes place weekly when at least 16,000 paying members compete online for just 500 local tickets. This gives someone a max. 1 in 32 chance of winning a golden ticket in these particular sales. These odds are simply crazy and whilst we all accept that demand will always exceed supply, any chance of capacity boost at Anfield must be pursued vigorously by the powers that be, in order to allow the next generation of supporters to learn the unique ways of The Kop and our home support.
One of the major stumbling blocks facing the expansion of the stadium is the potential effect on the local community and the area of the city as a whole. Anfield currently has no train station in its vicinity; the closest being Sandhills which is at least a 30 minute walk away; and the road network consists of narrow streets, incapable of dealing with the volume of traffic on match days now, never mind if there are thousands more flocking to L4 when The Reds are in town. If there were to be another expansion to Anfield then major infrastructure works would surely be needed. Merseytravel has previously discussed the idea of a train station near Anfield, however, there are unfortunately no immediate plans for building to take place.
Another obstacle in the path of the club is the actual Anfield Road which runs parallel, behind the stand. Although it isn’t generally a busy road, there would need to be provisions put in place to allow a flow of traffic and not affect the local community. Suggestions such as reconstructing the road to go underneath a newly expanded Anfield Road end have been voiced and at the moment this seems the most likely course of action.
During a recent Q and A for The Athletic, reliable journalist James Pearce, stated that he expects the project to cost ‘in the region of £50 million’ but this obviously depends entirely on the design and several other variables. In theory, this should have no impact on any transfer budget available to Jurgen Klopp as it’s thought that FSG would likely take out a similar loan to the one used to redevelop the Main Stand, which had a very low-interest rate.
For the sake of everyone associated with the club, let’s hope that this project is executed quickly, successfully and that the club will carry on looking forwards. Perhaps safe standing should come next?