Anfield - Is There Finally A Light At The End of The Tunnel
This morning a press conference was held in Liverpool Town Hall in the presence of the countries media, rather than just the people of Merseyside because Liverpool Football Club were finally going to reveal their plans for the future benefit of the club.
That future of course has centred around the stadium and for the last ten years, we, the supporters along with the residents of the Anfield area have heard many stories and indeed have been shown plans and photographs that have to this day, never bared any fruit.
Today, though providing all goes to plan signalled a change in direction for all those involved. Mayor Joe Anderson announced that Liverpool City Council had been granted a £25 million grant to improve the Anfield area. He has set up a Development board and the members of this would be himself, Tom Werner on behalf of Liverpool Football Club and Kathy Cowell of Your Housing. Your Housing, for those of you who are unfamiliar of the name, is the Housing Association that has been chosen for the modernisation of the houses and indeed any new build that will take place.
Part of this modernisation is the demolition of properties on Lothair Road, Alroy Road and Sybil Road, although since the announcement this morning the residents association of Sybil Road have said that they are not aware of this and my guess is that clarification will be given over the next few days.
As some of these properties are still occupied the council will have to issue compulsory purchase orders and unfortunately this process can take time. There will have to be consultations with the residents and this will include working out how much compensation they will receive for their homes. That compensation will have to be enough ensure that it covers what they paid for it and the value if sold on the open market today.
Liverpool Football Club resides in the centre of the Anfield area and have over the last ten years been deliberating about our Spiritual home. It was this debate that led David Moores and Rick Parry to make what was an horrendous decision to sell to Tom Hicks and George Gillett. That decision led to a promise of a "Spade in the Ground in 60 days" and photographs of stadiums that belonged to an era somewhere in the future. Stanley Park to this day stands empty and Anfield still looks the same as it has done for many years apart from the odd alteration. Two years further on and another set of owners, there are now indications that this may change.
The first indication of this was made during an interview that took place between Ian Ayre and John Keith on Citytalk last weekend. Ian said that an important announcement re the stadium would be made shortly. What he did not say was that the day chosen would be the day that marked the second anniversary of when we were taken over by John Henry and Fenway Sports Management.
That day was today and as I have said above there was a meeting at Liverpool Town Hall this morning that Ian Ayre attended on behalf of the club. It was the meeting that announced what most Liverpool supporters wanted to hear - We would be staying at Anfield as it would be cheaper to redevelop the stadium rather than go ahead with a new build. Although no true costing's of either project were given it is believed that the redevelopment will cost around£150 million compared to £300 million for a new build. The cost of the new build was deemed totally unacceptable for simply adding a further 15,000 seats, to the capacity of the stadium. It was not revealed how the club would pay for this but unless a loan is in place, we will have to wait for our revenues to increase enough for the funds to be made available.
Now this is my own opinion and I respect the fact that a lot of you will think differently. In my mind as much as I love Anfield just adding 15,000 seats with no room for further additions to be made is in fact economical suicide, not matter what John Henry and Fenway Sports Management have to say. A new build with several options in place for any additional capacity, would be worth the extra cost. A cost will be offset by the amount of revenue that will be brought in once the club reaches the dizzy heights of success, where of course it belongs.
What was unclear this morning was whether these 15,000 extra seats will be for us the ordinary supporter or indeed the corporate sector. That sector of course contains people that only go to the games to see what they can get out of club - not for the football on the pitch. The question of ticket prices was not addressed but I guess that is something that will be decided at some point in the future.
The one thing Ian Ayre did not do was put a time frame on the project apart from stating that the club hoped to seek planning permission for the redevelopment by the summer of 2013, which is understandable. We will have to wait to see if central government approve these. As I have said above, the compulsory purchase of properties can take some time and then of course there is the time it will take to demolish the houses, before the levelling off the ground can take place and the re-routing the Anfield road can take place. Now I am not a builder or indeed someone who knows anything about plans but I suspect Liverpool will do either the alterations to the Main Stand or indeed the Anfield Road stand while this is going on. Thus, allowing for the match day capacity to stay as close to normal as possible.
The remaining stand would be done the following season which means that although the figure of eighteen months for a redevelopment to take has place have been bandied about, it will in fact be nearer 3 years before we walk through the turnstiles of a completed Anfield.
I personally feel having listened to a lot of people this morning and indeed after reading a lot of the articles published since that it will 2017 before and if it happens.
Why if, because we have been let down so many times in the past and along with all the hurdles that the club still has to face before the first set of scaffolding goes up, anything could happen.