Liverpool’s third version of stadium plans approved

Perhaps it will be a case of third-time lucky after the latest version of plans for a new Anfield were given approval by the city council earlier today.

The need for a new stadium is not in question, Liverpool’s future depends on it being built, and Liverpool’s latest plans are for a stadium that will cost £300m to build, ultimately seating 71,000 fans if later approval is given to build it to capacity. That’s an increase of 26,000 on the current home, the Anfield stadium on the site used by Liverpool since the club was formed in 1892.

Computer rendering of \"Kop\" in New Anfield (v3)For now though the plans are officially for a 60,000-seater stadium, the club choosing that figure to match the capacity of the original version given planning permission. To increase it to 71,000 they will need to convince the planning committee at a later date that they can provide the necessary infrastructure for the additional 11,000 fans. In fact the permission for the 60,000 seats is conditional on certain improvements and measures being put in place to improve the transport infrastructure.

To enable the work to start the current owners included £60m in their refinancing plans back in January, but the funding of the remainder is unlikely to be agreed until the ownership situation is resolved.

The first plans approved were for the stadium known by many fans as the “Parry Bowl”, the stadium that looked similar to Bolton’s Reebok stadium, but with a larger capacity. It was the need to build that stadium that resulted in the club looking for outside investment.

The second plans approved were the ones revealed in July after the owners said that they wanted the club to have a bigger and better stadium than the “Parry Bowl”. Few disputed how much better the Dallas firm HKS’s plans looked, but at a later date costings were done and it was found to have come in at well over the expected £300m cost announced by the club in July. Some reports said it was nearly £150m over the agreed budget, and questions still remain unanswered as to how this could happen. Planning permission was granted in November, but by the time the government confirmed in January that they wouldn’t call the plans in, the owners were in New York with Rick Parry discussing two alternatives.

Of those alternatives, the version designed by the “Parry Bowl” architects lost out to the revised version by HKS. It’s this version that has been approved today.

It’s not fully clear how such massive cost savings were made, although changes in the quantity of the more expensive materials used for cosmetic reasons will help, as will a smaller underground car park and smaller dimensions to the outside of the ground. The wait for planning permission wasn’t going to have any impact on the restoration work to the conservatory and other features in Stanley Park, work having been underway already.

The planning committee considered objections from community leaders and residents amongst others, but like the previous two attempts it was still approved. Today’s plan was approved unanimously by the nine-man committee, headed up by chairman Dave Irving. He visited the site and also looked at the work underway on the listed parts of the park. He said later: “We had a good look at the park and saw the work being carried out on some of the listed buildings. It is quite exciting and will certainly benefit Anfield’s regeneration.”

It’s not just the park that needs regenerating, but certain aspects of the regeneration are tied into the new stadium, which was first announced by the club back in 2002. It’s now expected to open in 2011.

The Club, whoever “the Club” is these days, “welcomed today’s decision by the Liverpool City Council Planning Committee to unanimously approve the revised design of the new stadium in Stanley Park, Anfield.” So it said on the official site.

The statement also pointed out that in addition to the stadium full approval was given for the “Community Partnership Centre, club shop and museum, conference and banqueting facilities and a car park for 970 vehicles.” On top of that is outline planning permission already granted for the Anfield Plaza, details of which will be decided at a later date but are expected to be built around the site of the current Anfield pitch.

The Club speak of the key changes being “a more efficient use of space. The stadium footprint is 25% smaller than the previously approved design and therefore there is an additional .36 hectare/.89 acre of open space around the stadium.” It is still described as a “high quality stadium”.

It also points out how savings will be made by the need for less digging: “The Multi-Use Games areas and tennis courts associated with the Community Partnership Centre are now on a deck over part of the car park on the North side of the stadium with a living wall of plants facing Priory Rd. reducing the amount of excavation.”

As for when work will start, “The Club is committed to take the stadium project forward and start on site as soon as possible and aim for an opening for the 2011/2012 season.”

It is believed that further delays will be inevitable due to the need for the government to confirm the plans won’t be called in. Although expected to be a formality, it could take two to three months to be confirmed. It isn’t clear whether any work could start prior to that.

The club didn’t actually state the cost of the new stadium in their January announcements, but the cost was widely reported at the time as being an expected £300m, and there is no evidence that this cost has actually increased to the £350m widely quoted most recently.

It’s a far cry from 2003 when the club submitted plans for the earlier version of the ground they’d announced in 2002.  A Club statement at the time said: “£80 million is being invested in the new stadium but this will have no affect whatsoever on team building. Should Liverpool fill the stadium on a regular basis, the stadium will become self-financing and in approximately 15 years it will have been totally paid for. Everything has been planned down to the tiniest detail. Contractors are already on board, with prices fixed, and the club foresee no problems with rising construction costs.”

Although the £60m to commence the work is said to be in place, and the planning permission has been granted, there is still no formal information as to how long any further delays might be in waiting for government approval. It took two months from the November approval of version two of the stadium until the government decision in January. In addition to have the approvals from a planning point of view, there remains the need for approval of the financing for the rest of the project. George Gillett isn’t interested in staying on at the club and so the next owners will be responsible. Tom Hicks is reported to be trying to find the remaining £240m as part of an overall quest for finance to take the club into his full control. If he finds the finance he then needs to find a way of persuading George Gillett to sell. Meanwhile DIC wait in the wings, waiting to see if their opportunity arrives to persuade Tom Hicks to sell.

48 thoughts on “Liverpool’s third version of stadium plans approved”

  1. How can plans be made and financing agreed when the future of the club is in such confusion?

    These stadium plans just don’t excite me any more, there has been too much talking at the club in the last few years and not enough action. I’d go as far to say I’m bored of hearing about the stadium, it’s almost sad to see our latest ‘effort’ being presented. Once i see work starting and a huge excavation site…I’ll start to get excited. In the mean time, I’d just rather have some long term security.

    I still recall the owners saying a spade would be in the ground by about…a year ago!

  2. Talk Talk Bloody Talk, That is the only thing going on!!Gillett will sell, but he won´t sell to Hicks, even if Hicks finds the money to buy him out, where would he find the rest of the money to get the Stadium up and running, he won´t!! then there is the the Yearly costs of transfers, where is that going to come from, not from him, its that simple, he (Hicks) is to stretched, and whilst he hangs in there we as a Club will not go forward. We will not see any Stadium get under way for building before 2009\10, and the costs will go up and we will down scale again!!!! Hicks and Gillett have to go and let DIC come in with alot more money and get things moving.

  3. How is Hicks going to get all the money together for the Stadium, players, and Gilletts half of the shares?? can you answer me that one!!
    Gillett won´t sell to Hicks for the moment he will wait it out untill Hicks realizes that he cannot follow Gillett all over the planet trying to offer him money that he doesn´t have!!!

    But Texas_Dawg you can answer my Question about how Hicks will find 200million plus money for the Staduim and the Yearly Transfer money??????

  4. How is Hicks going to get all the money together for the Stadium, players, and Gilletts half of the shares?? can you answer me that one!!

    Phil, what do you know about Tom Hicks’s finances?

    Gillett won´t sell to Hicks for the moment he will wait it out untill Hicks realizes that he cannot follow Gillett all over the planet trying to offer him money that he doesn´t have!!!

    Even if that happened, we would simply be left with the status quo. You said Gillett would sell to someone else. You didn’t explain how that would happen… as I asked.

  5. I read this on the link to the old archived article JB linked int he header article:

    “Anfield Plaza

    Situated on the site of the current Anfield ground which will be totally flattened”

    Wow, I knew it was going to happen but does the thought of Anfield being ‘flattened’ make anyone else sad and a little sick in the stomach?

  6. Wow, I knew it was going to happen but does the thought of Anfield being ‘flattened’ make anyone else sad and a little sick in the stomach?

    Yeah, I imagine that part of this has to really suck for Liverpool fans. Arguably the most famous stadium in America is in its final season right now , and even though I’m not a fan of the team that plays there, it still kind of sucks to think that no games will ever be played there again. Just doesn’t seem right… but that’s part of growth unfortunately.

  7. Dawg: Understand what you are saying re:above. On the flip side, how long will Gillett have to hold out before Hicks gives up?! Or is he prepared to maintain the status quo for 6 months, 1 years, 2 years, 3 years? :)

  8. @Martin: “does the thought of Anfield being ‘flattened’ make anyone else sad and a little sick in the stomach?”

    It hit me last month during and after the memorial service. Twenty-odd services will have been held by the time we move, but then one year it won’t be held in that same spot. And twenty-odd years is a fraction of the time we’ve played there.

    You watch old matches and think of the people who’ve been there over all those years. All that emotion. People no longer with us.

    But I also looked round at the ground. No multi-coloured Crown Paint seats in the Anfield Road end, which is single tier now. Centenary Stand nothing like the old Kemlyn. The Kop of course not the old Kop. The main stand isn’t even the same as it was, despite being the least changed. All in all, it’s not the old ground, and my version of the old ground is new-fangled to some. I did stand on the Anfield Road as a kid but I barely remember it being a terrace.

    The pitch is about all that’s left of the old ground, and that’s supposed to be planned as an open space, so I sort of feel a little better about it all.

  9. Dawg: Understand what you are saying re:above. On the flip side, how long will Gillett have to hold out before Hicks gives up?! Or is he prepared to maintain the status quo for 6 months, 1 years, 2 years, 3 years?

    Hicks won’t give up. He is set on owning the team for the long-term. Like I said a couple weeks ago, I think Gillett will fold when and if it gets to the point that the split is really starting to affect the ability to keep or sign players (or keep Rafa). That would mean the point of true damage to the team’s ability to win. Only someone who has serious problems would want to stay on to do that when he could sell to the co-owner for an amount equal to or greater than what anyone else is offering. Or… maybe Gillett has changed his mind and decided he wants to stay and continue to co-own the team for awhile.

  10. is that ‘OR’ important.?

    All I mean by that, M.O., is that it is one scenario that wouldn’t involve Gillett’s simply being insane (as he would be if he was sticking around, despite otherwise wanting to leave, just to spite one man).

  11. @Dawg: From Hicks’ perspective is owning the club for the long term more profitable than owning it in the short term? i.e. taking dividends annually versus a big payoff? I don’t wanna hear any “He’s in it for the experience of owning Liverpool” type quotes now! :)

  12. Martin,

    I know you don’t want to hear that, but I don’t know what else to say. I’ve been to Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars all over the US with Tom and Tommy, and I know that they are primarily just sports fans. They love the thrill of it all as do all of us that are sports fans. Did you see this Fortune Magazine article I recently linked? That is about all the time and money Hicks put into the Texas Longhorns athletic program (specifically their (American) football team). What return on that time and money does Hicks get? Nothing more than winning… American college athletes are not paid and all profits go to the university. (Yet American college football has the most intense fans of all American sport. Their are many stories of wealthy Americans giving millions of dollars to their school’s teams with no return but winning. (Phil Knight, Boone Pickens, etc.)

    Now, LFC is obviously a much bigger investment, and Hicks certainly doesn’t want to lose money (or at least not too much of it)… but if he didn’t really care about sports, there are much more profitable places he could be investing his time and money.

  13. @Jim re: Anfield,

    That takes a little of the sting out of it I suppose. Not too much tho! 😉

    I haven’t been around that long I’m afraid to have seen what you have seen (you’ll know that from my email address that i’m 26). My mum was born and raised in Liverpool but I’ve lived down south all my life. However, one of my earliest memories as a kid is of going to Anfield – about 5 y/o, can’t remember who we played, what the score was, but it made an impression on me which has lasted all that time and seen me up until today, where on a day off work, in between betting (and making 20 quid :) ) on the cricket, have spent at least 6 hours on this site writing about LFC. So even though i’m officially a wooly back, it will be emotional. Can’t imagine what it’ll be like for some supporters who have lived next door for 50 years though…

    I just hope that for all involved, for all those memories and people that have passed through our club, these bloody owners ‘get it right’. If it’s the end of an era, it better be the start of an equally fantastic one. At the end of the day though, whatever Hicks does, whatever DIC may potentially do, it’s the fans that make this club and that will never be ‘flattened’.

  14. I think we could do better than Henry. Whats the name of that young lad who plays for Lyon? He is going to be shit hot when he’s older, I think Lyon want 40 – 50 million euros for him. How much is that in real money?

  15. Me: “So even though i’m officially a wooly back, it will be emotional. Can’t imagine what it’ll be like for some supporters who have lived next door for 50 years though…”

    Just been advised by aforementioned mother that woollyback actually means something slightly different. e.g. from neighbouring Runcorn. Apologies for that, but you know what I mean!

  16. Benzema? Looks a prospect but the minimum figure you quoted works out as about 30 million in pounds sterling!

  17. Martin – People in Liverpool would not call you a wooly back as you are not a wooly back. Wooly backs are from the outskirts of Liverpool, places such as ST Helens, Runcon, Wirral and places like that mainly from places in Cheshire or Lancashire. You have to generaly be from pretty close proximaty to Liverpool to be called a wooly back. You would be called a southener. Not very offensive.

  18. ” Just been advised by aforementioned mother that woollyback actually means something slightly different. e.g. from neighbouring Runcorn. Apologies for that, but you know what I mean! ”

    Martin – You see don’t put youself down.

  19. Martin – David Villa is looking to leave Valencia in the summer, he has said he would not mind comming to LFC. That kind of speculation is just fantasy football it all sounds very nice but the reality of buying players is much more complicated.

  20. It’s easy to-Anthony! I get plenty of light hearted stick from my remaining Liverpool based family! Still see more games live per season than any onf them tho :)

  21. Reckon that Villa could be an option but a bidding war could erupt for him and with our current finances…

  22. @Martin: “you’ll know that from my email address that i’m 26”
    Yes – martin@26yearsofage.com gives it away a little!

    “I just hope that for all involved, for all those memories and people that have passed through our club, these bloody owners ‘get it right’. If it’s the end of an era, it better be the start of an equally fantastic one. At the end of the day though, whatever Hicks does, whatever DIC may potentially do, it’s the fans that make this club and that will never be ‘flattened’.”

    Can’t disagree with any of that.

  23. So you visit Anfield quite alot? I haven’t been the match for a few years. I used to have a season ticket with my dad and his mates in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I am now 30. I was at the matches when we beat Palace 9 – 0, and when we got beat by Arsenal in the dying seconds. I have got my name on the season ticket waiting list. You said that you have spent 6 hours on the site all day, I am learing French and Spanish as I am a mature student. I have took 12 months of college so I can study. I can spend all day scanning the forum, although I find I have to turn the computer off otherwise I get nothing done. Do think though that this forum is by far the best LFC forum that I have seen. Jim you can give yourself a pat on the back.

  24. ” Reckon that Villa could be an option but a bidding war could erupt for him and with our current finances… ”

    Martin – The thing is if Villa says he wants to come to Liverpool then a bidding war would be averted.

  25. @Jim, I’m going to go all Leanne Hitchens on you now and through a hissy fit for breaching my confidentially rights! hahaha. That was so stupid – like giving the name Jimmy away is breaching confidentiality… yeah, you and the other million Jimmy’s in the UK Leanne! Funny how Anfielder et al has gone a bit sheepish. 😉

  26. Anthony, Yeah I’ve seen over a dozen this season now. Takes a lot of time and effort. Ballot applications, 3 hours spent on the phone just to get through, etc, etc, and takes me 4 hours to drive up, usually 6 back. Took about 8 hours to get back from the Arsenal game as the M62 was jammed… You can fly to texas in less time than I spend in my car on a match day! 😉

  27. @Anthony. Yes this is the best site I think by far as it looks into things rather than just going along with them.

  28. Not really actually, I live in Farnborough which is about 45 minutes train journey from London – in between Southamtpon and London.

  29. Martin – I also find that the other sites are not as user freindly as this one. This site is presented in a manner which makes it very easy to get involved with other people and to get a good debate going, its just like being with the people the way you can communicate with them. This site is very easy to use, and the articles that Jim writes add a bit of spice to the site. The others are just organised chaos without the organisation.

  30. Martin – I see your point, by the time you have commuted to London and then traveled across London to Euston the time adds up. If it was just London you had to travel from it would be worth doing.

  31. I’ve got mine on the waiting list too, been on it about 2 years in a pair (i heard it’s faster when your in a two).

    I just hope that when i finally do get to sit in MY seat at whatever stadium we are in, the team playing on that pitch will make me proud.

    I won’t have to defend the club to work colleagues supporting the likes of Bolton and West Ham, and that i can come in and gloat about our on-pitch successes safe in the knowledge my team is run and conducts itself in the right way.

    We’ve been completely dragged through the mud by people who don’t have the best interests at heart. Until now, and this is definitely fact, not one person has owned up to his/her mistakes. All we’ve seen is fingers being pointed and accusations.

    I can only hope that whenever this new stadium is built, that it brings a new era to the club. A new slate, and I hope that Anfield bows out gracefully when it’s time is up.

    It is ironic i suppose that Anfield will go out in the same controversy in which it was born.

  32. ST. Chris – The only problem is when people do not want their season ticket any more they do not cancel it they just hand them over to someone else. When we gave ours up thats what we done, we just handed them to my dads freinds. I have applied for a ticket on my own, my mum wont let my dad go the match anymore. She was the reason that he gave the tickets up in the first place, he was neglecting her!

  33. My partner knows how much football means to me, but I can tell she’s displeased whenever I ‘watch the game’.

    But to be honest besides the odd round of golf it’s my only hobby so I expect my hobbies to be respected and not judged….in an ideal world haha.

  34. Hey Anthony sounds like your mum was a very lucky woman. I mean, she asked your dad to choose between the footy and her – and they’re still together!

    She must be some woman mate.

  35. Texas_Dawg sure does work hard on standing up for Hicks. Failed attempts though Im afraid. Please stop printing what he says.

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