The club’s managing director Ian Ayre admitted taking the capacity of Anfield up to 60,000 would come at a “significantly lower cost” than the other option of building a new stadium from scratch at nearby Stanley Park, but other bureaucratic issues are making it “increasingly unlikely” that the club will be able to move forward with a redevelopment.
Ayre said: “In the nine months since the new ownership, an enormous amount of work has been undertaken in conjunction with leading architects, consultants, other industry experts and with Liverpool City Council to explore the building of a new stadium as well as exploring a refurbishment solution that could deliver the necessary growth in capacity, whilst maintaining the heritage and atmosphere that make Anfield uniquely Liverpool FC.
“However, with land/property acquisition, environmental and statutory issues creating barriers to our ambition, it looks increasingly unlikely there is any way we can move forward on a refurbishment of Anfield unless there are significant changes in those areas.”
The club have long been looking at ways to increase capacity in order to better compete with the matchday revenues of Manchester United and Arsenal, with Ayre saying earlier this month that the failure of previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to deliver on their promise of a new stadium had “set the club back several years”.
However, it now looks as though the new owners will not be able to make a quick decision, and are determined not to make promises that cannot be kept.
Ayre’s statement continued: “We are mindful that supporters have been promised a solution in the past and have been disappointed, and also that local residents would like to know what direction we are headed in.
“However, just like any other business, we can only proceed as and when we are clear on all elements and we will not be forced to make a decision that is not in the best long-term interests of our club and we will not make any promises to our fans that we cannot keep. We will continue to work diligently on this project and keep our fans informed of any progress.
“It’s disappointing that based on where we are at the moment, we seem to be unable to press on with the more viable economic option of a refurbishment, but we remain committed to finding the best possible long-term solution.’’