Liverpool principal owner John W. Henry has been speaking to the media about the latest news regarding the planned expansion of the club's stadium, Anfield, and one important aspect of his comments was regarding its impact on the team's ability to compete in the transfer market.
Henry's comments, reported by Ian Doyle in the Liverpool Daily Post, seek to reassure fans that the stadium improvements will not mean that Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, had less money to spend on new signings.
When this (the redevelopment) happens, that [financing] won’t be the problem. They (Hicks and Gillett) were talking about going out and borrowing an enormous amount of money for an enormous facility. That’s not what we are doing here.
No it won’t impact [on transfer budgets] because it will pay for itself. It’s actually a positive. It’s one of the reasons we are doing it. It still provides excess cash (for the manager), yes.
With Liverpool currently not partaking in any Continental competition, it is likely to be difficult enough as it is for the club to allocate extra funds for transfers despite the need to improve the on-field strength of the playing squad.
The Champions League, aside from its sporting significance to the club, provides an extremely important additional revenue stream for the club, which is part of the reason that returning to the competition is so high on the agenda. Having finished seventh in the Premier League last season, the Reds know there is still plenty to do to make those top four places despite their impressive start to the current campaign.
Following many years of doubt and indecision under a succession of club owners, Liverpool and owners FSG announced in 2012 that they would redevelop current stadium Anfield instead of building a new one and Ian Ayre, Liverpool's managing director, confirmed in April of 2013 that the plans were still on course.
While the expansion is a clear and necessary progression for Liverpool, the money which goes into that side of the club needs to be separate from the funds allocated to Rodgers in the transfer market.
Henry's words will therefore be a comfort to supporters anxious to see the team return to challenge at the top of the table, but other questions remain.
Back in 2012, Henry tweeted a link to an in-depth look at Anfield and the costs associated with expansion, building and income from additional seating.
While it is not a piece of work officially endorsed by anyone at Anfield, Peter McGurk's work still makes for essential reading.
The sum total of the work cannot be sufficiently concluded in a single paragraph, but a key point is made early on:
When all’s said and done and with the best possible wind (actually an absolute financial miracle), a new stadium can look at bringing in a net additional income of £15m. To put it in perspective, the shirt deal is more. Quite a lot more.
So, while a new stadium (or expansion of Anfield) is important for Liverpool in terms of growth of the club, tangible results of boardroom leadership and simply being able to say the team plays in front of 60,000 fans, it's not going to suddenly bring in a Chelsea level of spending to the Reds.
The bigger stadium is, in fact, only going to contribute to the overall wealth of the club by fine margins, making it even more imperative that its cost—which could easily increase suddenly dependent on interest charges, material prices, etc.—does not come at the detriment of Liverpool's ability to buy new players.
If the board and the club enable Rodgers and his scouting team to continue to bring in quality players, and the manager does his job in guiding the team to victories, Liverpool will return to the Champions League and challenge for trophies.
And at that point, having an additional 15,000 fans clad in Red on a Wednesday night under the floodlights will have a very real impact on the team once again, and it won't be in the form of money.
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