Now that Liverpool FC has pretty much confirmed that redeveloping Anfield is not an option due to the red tape government rules and regulations that would delay construction by about three years, it seems that the club has no option but to take up the offer on the 999-year lease of Stanley Park.
In short, Liverpool FC will be leaving Anfield in the near future, along with their over 119 years of history.
To be honest, I’m perfectly fine with that. Sure, Anfield holds many great memories and has seen many great players and managers grace its turf, but there comes a point when the need for progress necessitates change.
Without this stadium move, Liverpool FC would be left behind by its rivals, even more so than over the last two seasons.
Old Trafford already holds 30,000 more fans than Anfield, which at £40 per ticket per match adds over £1 million in additional revenue per game. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s move to the Emirates Stadium has increased turnover for the club by at least £20 million a year.
What worries me most, however, is the figure being quoted. Apparently, 60,000 seats is the target for the club, which in my opinion is too small.
Look elsewhere. Manchester United are aiming to expand Old Trafford to 90,000 seats. Barcelona were considering increasing the Nou Camp to 104,000 seats before the economic crisis, whilst Real Madrid, Inter and AC Milan all have 80,000-seat stadiums.
More recently, Bayern Munich’s 70,000-seat Allianz Arena opened in 2005. In fact, whilst Arsenal have the Emirates Stadium, which can hold 60,000 fans, the club has a strict, controlled wage structure which allows them to make a good profit from ticket sales.
In comparison, Liverpool don’t have anything like this. If you want proof, see Joe Cole’s £90,000 per week contract or better yet, Milan Jovanovic, whose signing on fee was paid over the last year, contributing to a £120,000 per week salary (not bad for 18 appearances and two goals worth of work. Neil Mellor had a better rate than that).
My biggest problem, though, is the club's reluctance to aim higher. It seems to me that everything points toward a bigger stadium. The club wants to compete at a higher level, and the competition is moving forward with bigger and better stadiums.
Yet the Liverpool hierarchy seem almost scared to exceed the magic 60,000-seat mark, and I can’t figure out why.
It definitely is not because tickets won’t sell. It’s well documented that the club has a 10-year-plus waiting list for season tickets and has for some time (I should know, I’m on it).
Maybe it’s the cost, but Arsenal are doing just fine, and the stadium would pay for itself.
Whatever it is, change is most definitely needed, and if we have to say a heartfelt goodbye to Anfield, then surely we have to justify it with a truly world class, competitively sized stadium at Stanley Park.