Anfield will have its largest attendance since 1977 when Manchester United visit on Sunday, providing that Monday evening’s test event goes successfully.
7,500 supporters are due to attend a Q&A with manager Jurgen Klopp on Monday evening, testing the facilities in both the upper and lower tiers of the stand in order for the club to receive a safety certificate ahead of a phased opening the new upper tier.
Should that all go smoothly, an additional 7,000 supporters will be in the new Anfield Road Stand upper tier on Sunday, with an attendance therefore around 57,000.
Anfield has been operating with attendances around 50,000 thus far this season, with the upper tier closed and small sections of the lower tier also not in use, such as the back two rows and a small section on the Main Stand side.
Two-phase opening of upper tier
All 7,000 tickets will be in the general admission area of the stand, with the hospitality areas and a small section of seating in the lower tier not yet completed.
While concessions will be open for the United game, plus West Ham and Arsenal later in the week, not all facilities will be in use as the new stand is completed following the former contractor, the Buckingham Group, entering into administration on the eve of the new season.
Liverpool have worked around the clock with the new contractor, Rayner Rowan Construction, to get supporters in the stadium for three huge games in eight days ahead of Christmas.
“It’s been really challenging,” explains Paul Cuttill, Liverpool’s vice president of stadium operations. “When what happened with Buckingham [Group] happened, it changed the programme.
“I’m really proud of everybody, the Liverpool staff and the construction team at Rayner Rowan. The priority was getting fans back in the stadium as soon as possible, safely.
“Billy [Hogan] said in October it would likely be 2024 before we opened, so to get ahead of that for the Man United game was a bit of an early Christmas present really, so really pleased.”
After the initial opening of the new upper tier with 7,000 fans, the aim is then for full capacity of close to 61,000 towards the end of January – depending on domestic cup draws.
While a full capacity will be in attendance, some amenities and facilities will understandably be limited, with the priority for the club being to get supporters in.
Other facilities and lower tier improvements
Other facilities, such as the new fan park underneath the new stand, will be completed later in the season. That area is currently being used as a construction staging area.
Cladding on the underside of the roof is still an ongoing process, too, while work in the Main Stand corner of the lower tier is also an ongoing process.
For those supporters who have attended in the lower tier, where not much has changed, there is good news for the future there.
“For the time being, they’ll remain the same,” Cuttill explained to This Is Anfield. “It’s a really good space now, the same number of people but a bigger area.
“We will be looking in the future to add some more into that extended space. We are going to re-visit that area to see if there’s anything more we can enhance the experience with.”
As for how much the setback has cost the club, Cuttill refused to be drawn, saying: “What it’s cost us is the amount of time it’s taken. It’s difficult to understand that until the end of the season.”
Some reports have suggested that Liverpool could be ‘losing’ around £750,000 per match without the upper tier being opened, operating around 11,000 below the new capacity.
With 11 games having been played so far this season, that would put the cost at over £8 million in lost revenue.
The good news, though, is that the future looks incredibly positive on and off the pitch, with the completion of the Anfield Road Stand project seeing owners FSG fulfil on their promise when purchasing the club to provide a 60,000-seater capacity stadium for Liverpool FC.
Anfield Road Stand Facts
- Capacity to be around 57,000 for next home games
- Final capacity will be 61,000
- Anfield Road Stand will hold around 16,000 supporters
- Estimated build cost of £80 million