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Anfield redevelopment plans on track

ESPN staff
April 17, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
John W Henry has made it a priority to keep Liverpool at Anfield © Getty Images
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Liverpool's £150 million plans to redevelop their Anfield home are on target, managing director Ian Ayre has told Sports Illustrated.

Last October, the club announced that they would no longer be going ahead with plans to build a new stadium at neighbouring Stanley Park.

Principal owner John W Henry has made it a priority to keep Liverpool at Anfield, saying last year he felt it was a "myth" that the club needed to move to a new ground to improve their financial prospects.

The Anfield proposals are part of a local regeneration project run in partnership with Liverpool City Council and the housing association Your Housing, which owns many of the properties around the stadium.

Council officials are putting in place plans to demolish a number of homes near Anfield, using compulsory purchase orders where necessary, in order to create space to extend the stadium.

Liverpool plan to use that space to expand the main stand and Anfield Road end in order to increase capacity.

Ayre told Sports Illustrated that an announcement on the next stage of the redevelopment could come as soon as May.

"In order to extend Anfield, we need to acquire a bunch of privately-owned property around the stadium," he said. "We're making really good progress with that.

"We have a meeting coming up in the next few weeks with the city council and ourselves and stakeholders. We said some months back it would take several months to improve that property acquisition situation. We're definitely on target so far.

"The No. 1 priority is to stay at Anfield, but there are two or three hoops to go through. The first is property acquisition, the second will be planning and the third will be to build the thing. I would guess our next announcement on it will come sometime in May or June."

Liverpool had been pursuing a new stadium at Stanley Park since 2000, but estimates suggested that building it would have cost around twice as much as redeveloping their current home.

In addition, Henry and chairman Tom Werner were attracted to Anfield's atmosphere and history because it reminded them of the 1912-built Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, which they also own.

Ayre said: "We've always said the preference was to stay at Anfield. It's the heart of the football club.

"I remember the first time John and Tom came to look at Liverpool before they bought it. I was the person showing them around. When we went into Anfield, John said to me: 'This is like Fenway. It's the same feeling. Why would we want to build a new stadium?'"

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