Liverpool FC: Should They Sell Naming Rights to the Reds Home?

Neri SteinFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2011

Liverpool principal owner John Henry is debating whether he should refurbish the famous Anfield or build the Reds a new home in Stanley Park.
Liverpool principal owner John Henry is debating whether he should refurbish the famous Anfield or build the Reds a new home in Stanley Park.Michael Regan/Getty Images

Liverpool FC’s owners, John W. Henry and Fenway Sports Group, are still undecided over whether or not they will build a new stadium in Stanley Park or refurbish the famous Anfield. The club is, however, looking for a naming partner for a new stadium.

If they decide to stay at Anfield, which currently holds around 45,000, they will not consider renaming the stadium that has housed the Reds since 1892.

But if they decide to move, they are looking for a new sponsor but could still take the name Anfield with them. Imagine the Reds playing at AT&T Anfield or Adidas Anfield.

Then again, how can it be Anfield when it’s not on Anfield Road?

So, assuming the owners decide to build a new stadium, is it possible the Reds could be playing at T-Mobile Park or Mercedes-Benz Stadium?

Just think about that for a second. Now, unclench your fists.

Some Liverpool fans have been dreaming of a new stadium ever since the doomed reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett began almost four years ago, but there are plenty who can’t imagine watching their beloved Reds play anywhere but Anfield.

Everyone is in agreement on one thing, however. Increased capacity is a must.

Money is the name of the game in the Premier League these days, and ticket sales are the easiest way to make money. But while many Reds fans think their team needs to be able to accommodate at least 60,000 fans, Liverpool is not behind the pack in any way.

Right now, Manchester United’s home, Old Trafford, holds over 75,000 fans and Arsenal's Emirates Stadium holds 60,000, but Chelsea and Manchester City’s stadiums hold between 40,000 and 48,000. Tottenham’s holds just 36,000.

The difference between those teams and Liverpool is the Reds do not have the guarantee of extra money from European competition for next season. However, Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s managing director, has insisted, the Reds do not need European football for monetary reasons.

In terms of world football reputations, Liverpool is above the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal and is on par with Manchester United and Real Madrid, both of which are frequently the top two earners among sports franchises in the world, in addition to being in the mix for the biggest trophies.  

Therefore, Liverpool needs to be able to match these teams in earnings, not to match them in the transfer market, but in terms of world prestige.

John Henry faced similar decisions when he first bought the Boston Red Sox, and he opted to refurbish the legendary Fenway Park instead of building a new stadium, and chances are he’s leaning toward the same decision once again.

But if they can’t find a way to increase capacity, the choice could be made for them.

Current manager and club legend Kenny Dalglish has said wherever Liverpool plays; the fans will go and make it a special place. But he feels, they should go along with the tradition of other clubs and shouldn’t take the name Anfield with them.

Liverpool Football club can play and be great anywhere, but there will only be one Anfield.