Anfield's capacity could be expanded to around the 60,000 mark after news emerged about a £40 million to £45 million expansion that would add 5,000 seats. This figure is down from the £60 million to £70 million believed to redevelop the Anfield Road end to stretch Anfield's capacity further. Anyone who has sat in the new Main Stand will attest to how impressive it actually is, but now that phase one has been completed as of last month, focus on how to make phase two a reality is underway.
John W. Henry questioned whether the next step of additional seats in the Anfield Road was possible as far back as September. Such comments raised concerns about the principal owner's ambition despite legitimate financial concerns surrounding potential returns on their investment. The following month former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre discussed how redevelopment costs would need to be met for any further expansion to take place.
Again, this revisits the dichotomy of being a club with local roots but designs on competing at the highest level financially. This is part of the challenge Ayre spoke about in November, and the reality is that increased revenues will only see Liverpool move closer to competing with Europe's best. Tradition, however, shouldn't be sacrificed on the altar of progress. This is why the announcement of the new Kenny Dalglish Stand matters ahead of the club's 125th anniversary.
“We always said that we would complete the Main Stand and assess its success before looking at any development for Anfield Road,” COO Andy Hughes said on future plans. “Anfield Road provides an opportunity to further develop our stadium in the future and the club's position is that we're going to start exploring the viability.
“We will follow the same robust process for Anfield Road as we did for the Main Stand. We are currently working on design, feasibility, cost, capacity and economic viability options. Only once we have completed this comprehensive process and come to a conclusion will be it be the right time to move forward with any development programme.”
A new £50 million training facility, a new flagship store by the start of next season, a new pitch to be laid this summer, increasing wheelchair bays and improving easy access in accordance with the Accessible Stadia Guide, the new Main Stand, the renaming the Centenary Stand after the man commonly agreed to be the club's greatest ever player, strong rumours of ambitious targets, and Champions League qualification for next season within reach all indicate that this club is moving in the right direction.
Phase 2 may not be as profitable as phase 1, but the ability to amend existing plans for the next two years (until August 2019) to add more than the 4,800 seats initially planned for will hopefully give the club greater flexibility in finding a way to make it happen. The preference is to add more, but the biggest problem will be finding a way to pay for it. Ticket prices, hospitality, and naming rights will presumably be considered—all unpopular options with many fans.