Reds look to add further 5000 seats to New Anfield

Liverpool FC’s plans for their new stadium have reportedly put on hold to accommodate some new ideas by the new owners. There have been rumours throughout the week that the club were going to halt work on the existing proposals in order to start the process of a completely different design and a massively increased stadium. However it’s more likely to be nothing more than a slight increase on the previous plans for a 60,000 capacity stadium.

New owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks admitted on takeover day that they would be getting their own experts from the States to look at the plans to see how things could be improved, but acknowledged there were certain parameters that had to be stuck to. One of the biggest constraints on capacity at the new stadium is the fact that the local transport infrastructure is unable to cope with anything much higher than the 60,000 seats planned. The local roads just aren’t wide enough, and earlier ideas to utilise a nearby freight branch line to bring a rail link to the ground were never fully explored. As well as those issues, there are issues about size and appearance, and if major changes were made to either then most of the planning procedures would need to be restarted. To get around this the club could restrict their changes to the internal layout of the stadium.

Yesterday a club spokesman confirmed a review of the plans was underway, but this is no more than what Hicks and Gillett had promised at the historic press conference: “There is a total commitment to a new stadium, but the new owners are conducting a thorough review of the current proposals, to see if there is any way they can be improved.”

According to reports, the increased capacity is unlikely to be more
than a total of 65,000, but there’s a hope that one significant change
can be made to the plans: the ability for further expansion in the
future. The current plans do not allow for any future increase in
capacity, it’s not physically possible to expand the stadium. By adding
the capability for expansion the club can look to improve capacity in
conjunction with any future improvements to the local transport
network. An overall increase of 20,000 on the current capacity at
Anfield adds up to major increases in revenue over the course of a

The Daily Post in Liverpool were told be “a senior source close to the
project” that the review was underway: “There is an urgent review of
the project which is going to take several weeks, and is likely to mean
a bigger capacity for the ground,” said their source.

The plans for the new stadium, and various sources of funding for it,
are tied into the regeneration of the local Anfield/Breckfield area.
Delays to the stadium would possibly mean delays to that regeneration,
which worries the city council. The leader of the council, Councillor
Warren Bradley, says the council will do what they can to help the club
with any new plans, but says the planning regulations can’t be ignored:
“The city will facilitate and enable but what I would say is if
Liverpool FC feel they want somewhere bigger they’ve got to understand
the planning process. The last thing we need is the regeneration of the
Anfield/Breckfield area to be stalled if Liverpool FC brings forward a
new plan. It could put it in jeopardy now that the plans have gone
through the planning process and appeals, and I think it is important
that the people of Anfield/Breckfield see the plans moving forward that
will bring a new park and a district centre. Liverpool haven’t spoken
to us yet.”

A fellow councillor, Berni Turner, is a director of the new company set
up by the council and the club to own the new site, and he says that he
hasn’t been told anything by the club: “I have spoken with senior
officials and this is all pure speculation.”

Increasing the capacity at Liverpool’s home games will bring more
revenue in for the club long-term, and in theory increase the size of
the transfer budget for the manager. Current manager Rafael Benítez has
spoken out to dismiss rumours that he might be in charge at Real Madrid
by the time the new ground has opened – but has also warned that he
needs to have talks with the new owners to confirm exactly how they
plan to fund new signings in the meantime. Real Madrid are looking for
a new coach for next season, but Rafa denies speaking to them: “There
are always a lot of rumours in the newspapers and a lot of people have
been talking about Madrid. I have read in some papers I’ve had meetings
with people from Madrid. This is not true.”
Rafa did have an offer to move to Madrid put in front of him last
summer, but after careful consideration turned it down to keep on with
his aim of bringing sustained success to Anfield. Part of what perhaps
kept him at the club was then Chairman David Moores’ decision to lend
the club £10m to help fund the transfer of Dirk Kuyt. Moores will get
that money back from the new owners, along with his £80m share money,
but Rafa wants to know what other contributions towards transfers the
US duo will be making: “What is clear is I’m very happy at Liverpool –
I couldn’t have more support than I’ve had here. But now we have new
people taking over and it’s important I talk to the American owners.”

Hicks and Gillett were impressed with Rafa in their meeting on the day
of the takeover announcement, but Rafa now wants to speak again about
the details of what’s going to be done: “I have spoken to them once,
when they first came to the club, but now I would like to see them
again as soon as possible and talk about the future. As I’ve said
before, I don’t just want to talk about money to spend on players. I
would like to hear about the plans which will improve the club. We need
to do things which not only help for one or two years, but will help
the club for the next 100 years.”