The news that the redevelopment of Liverpool FC’s Anfield Road stand has been given the green light by council officials in the city is good news for fans. However, it could also prove crucial in maintaining the club’s status as a European heavyweight.
Liverpool granted planning permission to redevelop Anfield Road Stand https://t.co/aqorVAMMzA
— Indy Football (@IndyFootball) June 15, 2021
RELATIONSHIP WITH OWNERS REMAINS FRACTIOUS
Staying at the sharp end of European football is vital for a club like Liverpool and the current owners, FSG, have certainly made up some lost ground in terms of boosting commercial revenues, while also delivering European glory and a first league title in 30 years. That’s not to say FSG haven’t made some serious mistakes in their time at Anfield, most recently the surprise announcement that they had signed up to the breakaway European Super League.
For every positive action they enact, there seems to be another PR disaster waiting around the corner – swiftly followed by an apology and a promise that they are learning from their mistakes.
All of this creates a difficult scenario for supporters who want the club to grow in the right way but find it hard to throw their full backing behind owners who constantly seem to be so out of touch with the fans. This was highlighted in koptalk.com back in 2016, following the completion of the Main Stand redevelopment, when FSG’s John Henry stated that further expansion of the stadium might not occur because of the sensitivity over ticket prices in England. His comments came just days after Liverpool fans had staged a walk-out in response to proposed ticket price reforms that included a £77 matchday ticket and the first-ever £1,000-a-year season ticket. It felt like he was telling the fans that if there was no more expansion it would be their own fault for not being willing to pay more for their tickets.
CAPACITY TO COMPETE
The appointment of Jurgen Klopp followed by subsequent on-field success and the club’s impressive commercial growth appeared to change the owner’s minds and they plowed ahead with plans to expand Anfield Stadium’s capacity to 61,000 – a total increase of 15,000 compared to when FSG first took over in 2011. Work began in June 2021 as soon as planning was approved and the new Anfield Road stand is scheduled to be finished for the start of the 2023/24 season.
The upgrades will make Liverpool’s venue the third-largest in the Premier League behind Manchester United’s Old Trafford (75,653) and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (62,062). On the European stage, it still leaves them behind the likes of Barcelona (99,354), Real Madrid (81,044), the Milan clubs (80,018), Bayern Munich (75,024), and Atletico Madrid (68,456) but puts them well ahead of the likes of Manchester City (55,097), Paris Saint-Germain (47,929), Chelsea (41,837) and Juventus (41,507).
The expansion is vital as it goes some way towards meeting the huge demand for matchday tickets and season tickets at the stadium. There are thought to be tens of thousands still on the waiting list for season tickets at Anfield with many having been on the list for two decades or more. The demand for matchday tickets is also at its highest thanks to Liverpool’s ever-increasing global reach. The £60 million project will yield long-term financial benefits for the club who also recently invested £50 million in a new state-of-the-art training centre.
The global appeal of the club, as well as the Premier League, means that fans are always looking for ways to interact and show their support for the club. The Asian region is no different as fans are looking to wager on their club’s success in various competitions, with the range of options at asiabet.org highlighting the high level of competition in this area. Review sites such as this analyse various factors including the welcome bonus to provide an objective judgement on the quality of the bookmaker. On these bookmakers, individual match betting markets are likely to provide the most value for the Reds as they are still seen as one of the favourites to win the league in the upcoming season.
PART OF WIDER PLANS FOR GROWTH
The new stand will allow the club to host more conferences and business events, as well as an increased number of non-sporting events such as music concerts. The proposal also gives permission for the use of the stadium for other sporting events throughout the year, raising the prospect of NFL games and high-profile boxing matches coming to Anfield.
According to Forbes, Liverpool has risen to 5th in the list of the world’s most valuable clubs, with an 88% increase in just two years. This puts them hot on the heels of Manchester United whose value has stalled whilst debts have risen over the same period. The opening of the new stand will also coincide with the expiration of their current shirt sponsorship deal and the Reds will expect to command a significantly increased fee this time around.
— Forbes (@Forbes) April 12, 2021
A SUSTAINABLE MODEL
FSG clearly remains intent on investing only what they generate, while balancing on-field success with strong financial health, making any increase in revenue vital to their vision. After a series of blunders under their ownership, FSG may find it impossible to ever really gain the trust of Liverpool fans. In fact, that ship probably sailed when former Chief Executive Rick Parry uttered the words “Trust us” shortly before selling the club to the disastrous duo that was George Gillett and Tom Hicks. But as long as the Boston-based firm can keep the club competitive on the domestic and European fronts, then a cordial relationship should be able to be maintained – and the expansion of the Anfield Road stand will be key to achieving that.