At present Anfield has a capacity of 45,276. The stadium was originally built in 1884 but was occupied by Merseyside rivals Everton until 1892. Back then it could hold around 20,000 before being expanded in 1928 when the Kop was developed to hold a total of 30,000. The most recent redevelopment was in 1998 when the Anfield Road end was opened as a two tier stand.
Plans to replace Anfield had been in the pipeline since 2002, but current owner John W Henry’s takeover of the club in 2010 seems to mean the Reds will remain at Anfield with the redevelopment estimated to be worth £260 million.
The pros are obvious, at least to the owner. The club is one of the most popular football clubs in the world; Anfield regularly hits capacity (even for charity matches) and the team’s success this term will only increase the popularity, commercial value and sponsorship potential for the brand globally.
It is a lucrative business that is in ascendance under Brendan Rodgers and the club ought to have one of the country’ biggest capacity stadiums level with Arsenal (60,362 capacity) of not Manchester United (75,731 capacity).
The cons are of course the destabilising affect these plans could have in the meantime. The good news is that the extension work is intended to not disrupt matches and subsequent match day revenues but the project is not expected to be completed until 2018.
The team are top of the Premier League and clear title favourites, just hitting their stride under Brendan Rodgers who looks likely to lead the Reds to their first ever Premier League title in their best vein of form since their last domestic league title win in 1990. T
he extra funding they will receive from Champions League qualification next term means, from a business perspective, there is probably no better time to set the wheels in motion
If the Reds manage to remain in the Champions League for the next four years, while the work is being done, that extra income of up to £70-80 million per season from broadcasting and prize money would account for almost the entire outlay over the course of that four-year period (£260 million divided by four is £65 million a year).
Overall, it seems like a worthy investment being handled with care and intelligence by Henry and those planning the redevelopment. It is unlikely to directly impact the team’s success and progress on the pitch, or the fans’ access to come to Anfield and support the club.
Even the majority of local residents whom it is going to affect seem to be on board (according to Liverpool City Council, 94% of the residents are in agreement with the proposals) and after the season Liverpool have enjoyed so far, there really could not be a better time or way to expand the club’s revenues in the long-term.