When Liverpool take to the pitch for the last home game of the season against Aston Villa, it will be the final time in front of a 54,000-capacity Anfield.
The Reds are entering the final stages of Anfield’s redevelopment, with the new Anfield Road Stand to be completed and opened this summer, taking the overall capacity to around 61,000.
When Jurgen Klopp‘s side open their home campaign for 2023/24 – which the club have requested to be the second game of the new season – it will be in front of the biggest crowd at Anfield since May 1977 when the Reds clinched the title.
Ahead of the demolition of the existing Anfield Road Stand roof and the completion of the project, This Is Anfield spoke exclusively to stadium operations manager Paul Cuttill.
Paul, firstly, is the project on schedule, and have the club asked to play the opening game of next season away from home?
“We’re currently on time. The programme is on pace to hand over [from the contractors, Buckingham] to us [the club] at the end of July, with a view to the first home game for the new stand to be open.
“[Yes], we’ve requested the Premier League for our first game to be away, so our first home game will hopefully be on or around the 19th of August, we’re yet to have that confirmed.”
With the club’s aim of reducing operational carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, was it ever considered to have solar panels on the new roof?
“There will be solar panels on the new roof, which is the first time we’ve done that at Anfield.
“It will give us a really good idea as to what the impact of that is. We all know it’s the right thing to do to capture energy in that way, it will at least give us an idea of how much we’re capturing and what we can do with that and whether it’s something we want to push out further around the stadium.”
This will complete the Anfield redevelopment project that was first announced in 2014, are there any plans for a ‘phase three’ expansion in the future?
“I’m genuinely not aware of any plans for phase three at this point in time but we’re always, continually looking at the stadium and how we can do things better.
“But I’m personally not involved in any conversations about phase three at this point of time.”
Fans often also ask about ‘filling in’ the corners between the stands, our understanding is that this isn’t feasible due to the stanchions that literally hold up each stand. Can you clarify?
“It’s very difficult to fill in [the corners], because of the way [the ground has been developed] and also the levels of the stands, Anfield is on a slope one way and a slope another way, so to start filling in corners and be able to match the terraces up, I don’t think you could do it.
“With this build, when we’ve done the demolition and removed the steel, there may be some seats that become available, some space to put some seats in.
“But until we get to that point after the demolition, we’re not too sure in this point in time.”
How long will it take to remove the existing Anfield Road Stand roof and what’s the demolition process?
“After the Aston Villa game, literally immediately afterwards, we’ve got 24 hours as a club to do our bit of work, which is basically emptying out the existing areas of the upper Anfield Road Stand.
“Then we hand this site and the pitch over to Buckingham (the contractor).
“They’ll come on and cover the pitch, we’ve done tests at AXA with the cranes to make sure the weight loads can be managed on the pitch. Two very big cranes arrive on site and, making this sound very simple, lift the roof off, and that should be done in a four week window.”
Another often-asked question is regarding the potential for expanding the length of the pitch?
“We will remain the same. There’s no intention to change the length of the pitch at this time.”
SEE MORE: 9 photos from INSIDE the new Anfield Road Stand
And finally, are the club any closer to confirming the breakdown of ticket allocations in the new stand?
“The expansion will see around 1,000 new season tickets allocated, plus more than 3,000 new general admission tickets per game for the members sale.
“The club is still working through the full ticket allocation breakdown, including hospitality, young person and local tickets, with more information on this expected shortly.”