There has been a rare and pervasive feeling of positivity surrounding Liverpool Football Club in recent months. After less than one year on the job, supporters are in love with charismatic German boss Jürgen Klopp, and his brand of gegenpressing football has been responsible for the most goals scored in the league since his arrival. The redeveloped Main Stand brought Anfield capacity up to over 54,000, and in two home games so far the Reds have outscored the opposition 9-2, and has helped to lift the side to fourth place after six games.
Despite these positive developments, the relationship between Liverpool faithful and the club’s American ownership remains tepid. It seems as if there is always something to criticize, be it raising ticket prices to stay competitive, spending too much in the transfer market without the results to back it up, or spending too little in the transfer market. Or simply not buying a shiny new leftback.
Now, a comment by owner John Henry seems likely to divide the fan base once again, this time over additional Anfield expansion.
"I don't know if there is a next step because ticket prices are an issue in England," Henry said. "That may foreclose further expansion. We'll have to see."
The expansion in question—a proposed 4,800 additional seats in the Anfield Road end—now seems like less than a sure thing. For those Fenway Sports Group detractors, Henry’s comment could be seen as a direct challenge to the estimated 10,000 fans who walked out of Anfield after 77 minutes to protest the planned ticket price hike. From FSG’s perspective, they clearly want to know that they will continue to receive a good return on their investments.
“The way we managed the Main Stand expansion was great and we will continue in a similar vein to be cautious and not promise anything until we are ready to deliver,” Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre said in another interview. “We will come along with planning if and when we have the right design and economic model. Once we have these parts in place, we will let people know.”
As with anything concerning the ownership, those who wish to take this in the worst possible way will likely jump on the opportunity, hashtagging away. Although the fans managed to get the club to back down on the proposed ticket hikes last spring, they might have to live with the consequences of that decision, namely forgoing continued expansion of Anfield.