Anfield to Re-Develop or To Start Afresh on Stanley Park
This morning the question of what is going to happen to Anfield reared its ugly head yet again. Radio Merseyside reported that the residents of Anfield have urged Liverpool FC officials to make up their minds about whether or not the club will be building a new stadium.
As I am sure you are all aware, every time the subject is broached, John Henry or Tom Werner, come back with the same - we are looking into the matter answer. Now I have nothing against this but, as the report states, the residents of Anfield and the surrounding area have lived in limbo now for more years than they should have and deserve an answer.
Here are a couple of quotes taken from the article:
Mrs Groves , Chairman of the Anfield and Breckfield Physical Regeneration Group said and I quote "What I Would like is if they could just come out and tell us what's going on."
Councillor Jimmy Kendrick said that people local people are unhappy at the delays this is causing to the regeneration of the area. He added "There are two parts to this, the council regeneration programme hasn't totally worked and Liverpool FC's stalling over whether to re-locate to Stanley Park or renovate the existing stadium.
The club have issued a statement stating that it has worked closely with the City Council and the local community for over 10 years to ensure that the Anfield/Breckfield regeneration is realised. This I can vouch for, having recently downloaded and studied all the planning documents and comments from residents of the area.
It seems that the City Council feel that after taking part in several studies the right decision would be to move everything into Stanley Park. This was put to the club, who at the time was owned by David Moores and was run by Rick Parry in his position as Chief Executive Officer. It was agreed by all parties that not only was it the right course of action, but would prove to be the cheaper one in the long run. Anfield was getting old and the cost of redevelopment and loss of revenue whilst this was taking place was deemed to be too high.
This of course set off a chain of events that we all now regret and I know a lot of you will hate me saying this, includes David Moores. He realised that he simply did not have the funds or indeed the know how to proceed with this and put Liverpool Football Club up for sale. Unfortunately, after a strange turn of events, he opted for two American Chancers, who promised the earth literally saying that a spade would be in the earth within 60 days.
As we all know that did not happen and the club lurched from one crisis to another until finally it was sold in October last year. Now I am sure that one of the pre-requistes of this sale was that they had the funds available for a new stadium build. I can honestly recall Martin Broughton, stating it in one of his interviews but as per usual, when you want something, I simply cannot find the newspaper report that covered it.
I am sure that when John Henry did his due diligence and met with the council, he was made aware that planning permission was already granted and according to reports ran out in April. This actually puzzles me though because on the plan's themselves the date is stated as June 2011, which perhaps is why he appears to be stalling over making an announcement.
Now John has come up against this problem before and the option of redevelopment was chosen and the Red Soxs have now got a first class stadium. Anfield I feel needs to be looked at in an entirely different way. It is not just a stadium, it is a family home and holds many memories, some happy, some sad and to leave it would in some people's eyes would be something that simply cannot be contemplated.
I came from the generation of supporters that can remember the Anfield that stood, where the Anfield of today now stands. Although mainly open to the elements, it was still a place that held a special meaning to us all. It was after all the place, where we were witnessing the rise of Liverpool firstly under Bill and then Bob. As time went on though and as always with success, the supporter base was rising and it was viewed that a new Anfield was needed. This happened and the building in place now was the result. It was also turned into an all seater, once the recommendations of the Taylor report were known. The downside to this of course was that its capacity was not as high as it had been, although the atmosphere was retained, particularly on the Kop.
The continuing success of the club meant that its supporter base was rising even higher and it very quickly became obvious that a larger seating capacity was needed to cater for everyone. Nothing was done for several years, but then the club started a season ticket scheme, which was to help ensure that people got seats. It actually did the opposite and left those of us without one, facing a weekly fight for the remaining seats, which of course is not healthy for either side. To aleviate this, several different schemes have been brought in over the years and apart from a hiccup due to our bad league performances earlier this season, they have not worked. There is nothing more frustrating than spending 4 hours on a phone just to buy a ticket only to be told they are sold out. Hence the need for a stadium with a higher capacity.
To redevelop Anfield would be fantastic I admit. It has a atmosphere of its own and whenever I enter it, I feel as though I am home and amongst my family. I have also been through its corridors when empty and it has such an eerie feeling to it, that I suspect the ghosts of Bill and Bob are in residence.
But in all honesty we do have to look to the future and in my own mind a new build would be a safer option. It would allow the club to increase the capacity perhaps more than a rebuild would. It would certainly not be so disruptive to the population of the surrounding area whilst the building work took place.
In fact if the plans that John Henry's architects come up after consulting with the City Council are as near or as good as the ones that planning permission was originally granted it for, it would become not only our new home, but a great benefit to the whole area.
These plans include, not only a stadium which I believe was originally hoped to be around an 80,000 seater, but a hotel, car parks, a leisure and shopping area, along with new connections to the transport system in the city. It would greatly increase the standard of living in the Anfield area and ensure the area gets the new look it so desperately needs.
I am sure like me when you walk around Anfield and the surrounding streets on match day, it breaks your heart when you see the dereliction caused by the empty and boarded up houses. You look across to Stanley Park and imagine that one day there will be not only be an ultra-modern stadium standing there, but it will be our stadium, our new Anfield, a stadium so steeped in memories from its past that it will feel like home from the moment the first brick is laid.
That of course may not happen immediately, a rebuild may take place first, but at some point in the future, I suspect there will no other alternative. Liverpool Football Club is growing in stature every day, and with Kenny now back at the helm, it has accelerated. so much that John Henry not only owes it to the residents of the area, but to us the clubs supporters to make a decision sooner rather than later.