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Liverpool’s Stadium Issues may be decided by these two key issues

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Written by David Tully for Live4Liverpool: The possibility of redeveloping Anfield is a very real one, and this has excited many fans into believing that this has got to be the only option. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was asked today himself about the Stadium issue and the prospect of naming rights, his response was surprisingly diplomatic. Of course he was never going to put his real thoughts out to the press with FSG still considering their options, but he still felt it was necessary to say what the good points of a new stadium could be:

“For me – being a traditionalist – Anfield is a fantastic ground with fantastic memories. But unless you can get it up to the capacity that they want then we might have to move somewhere else. A new ground would have its own interesting points. There would be more people there, Liverpool would still be playing there and it would have the same romance to it. It’ll still be a fantastic stadium with fantastic support, so once they decide what they want to do we’ll know what is going to happen. But renaming a new stadium is something people do anyway. You don’t get many old stadiums renamed so I don’t think they’d do it with Anfield.”

I know it is hard to be dispassionate about a subject which inspires such strong emotions, but if we put away all the emotional arguments for just a moment, and look at the numbers, the case for Stanley Park may look stronger in FSG’s eyes.

If we look purely at match revenues for a minute and compare them to Manchester United and Real Madrid, you can see where the Reds have faltered financially in the last 10-20 years. While Real Madrid took £105.7m in match day revenues last season, Manchester United took £100.2m according to Deloitte, while Liverpool took in just £42.9m, a number which will decrease next season if the Reds fail to get European football.

For FSG to realise their aims of a self sustaining business, Liverpool must be able to compete in revenues in all quarters with their rivals. While TV revenue is determined by the club’s success on the field, and commercial revenue nearly matching Man U and others, the big gap in match day revenues is the one area that has to be reduced. For this to happen, increased capacity is essential.

So far then, redeveloping Anfield seems the common sense approach, but the big issue surrounding redevelopment is the number of corporate boxes. Revenues from such boxes is tremendously important and the Reds have suffered in this regard in recent years. While Anfield only has 32 boxes, Arsenal has 150 and Man U has 200; a sizeable difference. It means the Reds lose £2.5-3million a game to their big four rivals, which amounts to 10s of millions over a single season.

Correct me if I’m wrong on this matter but it has been reported that a redeveloped Anfield could probably only add another 50 corporate boxes to the stadium, which would leave us still over 100 behind Manchester United. The way to compensate for this could be to up ticket prices, as FSG did when they redeveloped Fenway Park instead of moving the Red Sox to a new ballpark, but the financial climate especially around Merseyside would surely make this difficult.

With Ian Ayre also ruling out renaming Anfield yesterday, it means the Reds could also miss out on £100million + which could be accrued from the naming rights of a new stadium. For FSG then, the corporate box issue and the naming rights are two things they need to consider before committing to either redeveloping Anfield or moving to Stanley Park. Both stadium options would see an increase in capacity but as explained above, this is not the only issue, and John W Henry, Tom Werner and Ian Ayre will surely be looking at all the financial implications of both options before making a decision.

Read more of David’s articles at Live4Liverpool

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