I know what you're thinking, but save the eye-rolling and cynicism for the embarrassing media Hodge-fest, good readers, for there would seem to have been a definite stride forward in the seemingly interminable march towards the redevelopment of Liverpool's famous old stadium. Thus far, a combination of factors, not least amongst them the club's incompetence and arrogance, have led to the most demoralising of impasses. In recent times, since the stewardship of FSG, Liverpool Football Club has made far more deliberate efforts to connect with all the interested parties and diplomacy has been high on the agenda.
A stroll around the environs of the ground shows that work on the gentrification of the area has already begun and the plans for the new walkway through Stanley Park are ready to be implemented. The thorny issue is, and has always been, the houses on Lothair Road and Rockfield Road which need to be demolished if the planned extensions are to take place. However, a decision is set to be made by Liverpool council cabinet on Friday of next week to approve, in principle, the use of compulsory purchase orders for properties that have yet to be bought up by the club. The houses in question are still the subject of ongoing negotiations over sale-price and CPOs are seen as very much the final option. The certainty of their existence, however, will be a huge factor in finalising the process.
According to Steve Graves' article in the Liverpool Echo, some 699 properties had originally been identified as being in "clearance zones." In the interim, 279 have been, or are currently being, demolished; 346 homes have been purchased or are sale-agreed, with other property owners still in talks with the council-led development consortium. According to the council the "worst case scenario" would involve CPOs for around thirty properties.
The dominant theme of late has been progress through consultation and cooperation and Mayor Joe Anderson was keen to stress the importance of the residents in the process.
"We have had overwhelming support from local residents and businesses for our plans and there is unarguable public interest in driving these proposals forward," he insisted. "The people of Anfield have been let down too often in the past. we will not let them down again. we remain confident that we will be able to acquire properties without having to resort to CPOs but want to get agreement for them should they be required. The legal justification for CPOs, should they be needed, is unequivocal."
Let us hope then, that the difficult compromise is reached to mutual satisfaction. To coldly remove the needs of the few from the equation for a moment, there is an overwhelming will and need for this redevelopment to proceed, sooner rather than later. From a purely self-interested footballing perspective, the increased revenue and attendant buying power cannot come soon enough. Brendan Rodgers and his charges are over-achieving on the pitch. Their sterling efforts need to be matched off the field too, if Liverpool Football Club is to regain its position at the very pinnacle of the game.