Liverpool owner John W. Henry has suggested that ticket prices being an “issue” may mean FSG will not push ahead with phase two of Anfield’s expansion.
Phase one, the new Main Stand, will be completely finished in January, while phase two would see the Anfield Road End rebuilt similarly and take Anfield’s overall capacity to around 58,800.
The club have outline planning permission for the Anfield Road End, which expires in September 2017, and FSG have always insisted a final decision on whether to go ahead with phase two would be made once phase one is complete.
However, Henry has now suggested that the protest over the rising ticket prices in February this year has put phase two in doubt.
Speaking in New York on Wednesday, Henry said: “I don’t know if there is a next step because ticket prices are an issue in England.
“That may foreclose further expansion. We’ll have to see.”
The extra 4,800 seats in the expanded Anfield Road End are planned to be all general admission tickets, with no further hospitality added.
Henry’s claim though does not add up as the originally proposed ticket prices would not have significantly changed Liverpool’s finances; adding around £2 million per year.
The new Main Stand is expected to add £20 million per season to the club’s matchday revenue – mostly due to the increased hospitality in the stand – while naming rights are being sold for between £5-7 million per season.
Therefore, the new Main Stand, which cost around £115 million to build is expected to have paid for itself after five years.
No figure has been officially given for the potential Anfield Road End expansion, but Ian Ayre did suggest a fee of around £50 million in a supporters committee meeting previously.
That FSG have never fully committed to the Anfield Road End expansion, skeptics may see this as being a very convenient get out for the Americans.
When FSG purchased the club just under six years ago, outgoing temporary chairman Martin Broughton explained that they did so under the proviso to provide a 60,000-seater stadium – whether a new stadium or a redeveloped Anfield.
“There’s definitely a commitment to invest in a stadium and we will finish up with a 60,000-plus seater stadium,” said Broughton.
“Where they haven’t finalised their view is whether that should be the new stadium or whether there are still opportunities to build at Anfield itself.
“They have done both. The people involved have built the new stadium at Baltimore Orioles, for example, and at Fenway Park they looked at the two options and decided that actually redevelopment with all of the tradition was better than a new stadium.”
Anfield’s new capacity this season is 54,075, while an expanded Anfield Road End would take it to just shy of the 60,000 figure.