Over the past few years, the construction of a new stadium has become one of the biggest concerns for the Liverpool fans.
Ever since the 60,000 capacity Stanley Park Stadium (option to extend upto 70,000) was planned by the infamous previous owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Liverpool fans have been waiting for signals of work to begin on the stadium. However, to their disappointment, it remains only on paper.
Recently, a ranking of the football clubs was released which ranked the clubs based on their revenues. Liverpool, despite being out of top four in the league, has been able to hold its Big four reputation in terms of revenues.
However, looking closely at the figures of the study, some interesting facts emerge.
Liverpool earns about £43 million from gate sales.
Arsenal and Manchester United, both with stadiums considerably bigger than Anfield, earn more than double of what Liverpool earns from its gate sales.
Manchester United has always been lucky to have a stadium of the size of Old Trafford, which has a capacity of 76,000.
Arsenal, like Liverpool had a historical stadium Highbury, with a capacity of 38,000. They made a prudent choice to construct the £390 million Emirates Stadium, which was completed in 2006. And the figures for the gate receipts, nearing £100 million annually, just to illustrate the correct choice was made.
The new owners, Fenway Sports Group, seem to be considering the idea of redeveloping Anfield, trying to increase its capacity by 10,000 to 15,000.
Lets weigh the pros and cons of both options. Constructing a new stadium at Stanley Park or redeveloping Anfield.
Stanley Park, with a capacity of 60,000, would provide Liverpool, with the kind of state-of-the-art stadium the fans have been longing for. Considering the ticket prices to be £40, the additional 15,000 capacity could earn Liverpool approximately an additional £12-15 million annually, a conservative estimate.
However, the stadium would cost around £350 million and again is expected to place the club in debt, which the club fought so hard to come out of. Though the additional earnings should be enough to service the debt without much problem, the fans might just be wary of such a scenario.
The redevelopment of Anfield was something that was ruled out during the reign of Hicks and Gillett, but the new owners seem to prefer this option over new stadium construction, something they achieved very successfully at the Boston Red Sox.
Though, no one is sure about the cost of redevelopment vis-a-vis the costs of Stanley Park, the fact that FSG are considering it does indicate it's financially viable.
Some fans might prefer this option as it would help the club retain the historical stadium. The increase in revenues might not be as much as from a new stadium, but retaining the Anfield atmosphere might just be worth it.
The new stadium is one of the reasons Arsenal is financially one of the most stable clubs in Europe and there is no reason Liverpool cannot emulate that.
However, whatever the option, one thing is for sure, the decision on the stadium needs to be made soon. The new owners do seem the type who believe in doing what is best for the club and are not afraid to spend for the same.
Hope they provide Liverpool with what it requires the most, a new and improved Anfield or a state-of-the-art Stanley Park.