Liverpool co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks have announced that work on the club’s new £350m stadium is to begin imminently.
A club statement today confirmed that contractors Laing O’Rourke had been instructed to “commence enabling work” on the site – the first “tangible evidence” of development.
Final planning permission for a 60,000-capacity ground on Stanley Park was rubber-stamped last Thursday and work to prepare the site began yesterday.
Full construction work will get under way in due course with the club confident the stadium will be open for the start of the 2011-12 season.
Gillett told the club’s website, liverpoolfc.tv: “This is a significant milestone for the club and I am delighted that the design received full planning consent and that we are now on site.
“We have been working very hard over the last six months to move the details of the design along but this is the first tangible evidence for fans that a new LFC stadium will be built.”
The statement is also significant as it is the first to come from both Gillett and Hicks together for some time.
The American pair successfully negotiated a refinancing package in January to allow them to move the stadium project forward but progress then stalled as the pair’s relationship broke down.
A period of instability followed and, with Gillett and Hicks barely on speaking terms, Dubai International Capital revived their interest in buying the club.
Yet with Hicks determined not to sell his 50% share and DIC not keen to buy only half of the club, the situation reached an impasse.
Last week, however, Gillett revealed relations with Hicks had improved and the duo were now working together.
The new stadium, designed by Dallas-based architects HKS, will eventually hold 73,000.
Gillett added: “The stadium design is unique and will be recognised across the world as the Liverpool FC stadium.
“It incorporates a Kop stand that will hold 18,000 fans and we hope that the stadium will be as noisy and atmospheric on a matchday as Anfield.”
The stadium also be the centrepiece of a wider regeneration of the Stanley Park area of the city, work which has already begun and for which European funding was received.
Hicks said: “We have watched the council transform Stanley Park over the last six months and the ongoing refurbishment of houses in the Anfield/Breckfield area.
“I am pleased that now the club has received full planning permission it can join the regeneration process with the commencement of enabling works.”