Following a delay caused by the pandemic, Liverpool FC is readying plans to expand the capacity of its stadium’s Anfield Road stand by 7,000 people, taking the ground’s full capacity to 61,000.
The move comes at a time when fans have been unable to attend football matches since March, but Liverpool’s managing director Andy Hughes says the absence of supporters has reaffirmed the club’s desire to expand.
He said: “The last nine months without fans in our stadium has driven home our commitment to making Anfield accessible to more fans than ever before.
“While a high level of uncertainty remains around Covid-19, we would like to be in a position to move ahead with the proposed redevelopment as soon as the time is right, which is why we’ve decided to move forward with submitting the planning application.”
The expansion would make Anfield the third largest stadium in the Premier League, behind Manchester United’s Old Trafford and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which can hold 74,000 and 62,000 fans respectively.
Under the proposals, the club will also ask Liverpool City Council for permanent permission to hold concerts and major events at the stadium.
Liverpool FC had originally anticipated that the project would complete in time for the 2022/23 season, subject to planning consent, and had expected to submit an application for the scheme in spring of 2020.
However, in April a statement from the club said that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the projected completion date had been pushed back to the summer of 2023 at the earliest, a year later than planned.
Liverpool FC has now provided an update on the proposals, saying a planning application will be submitted “shortly” and that it expects a decision to be made next spring.
Hughes said: “We have been clear from the start that the expansion would be based on three things: financial viability and sustainability; the successful navigation of the complex planning landscape, and the cooperation of local residents and the community.
“We feel we now have a proposal that has been informed by our neighbours, will support the wider economy and provide an opportunity for more of our fans to come to Anfield to support our great team.”
Work to increase Anfield’s capacity to 54,000 by adding 8,500 seats to the main stand completed in 2016.
Two years earlier, the club secured outline consent to add 4,500 seats to the Anfield Road end, but the club let the permission lapse in order to bring forward plans for the larger expansion.
Architect KSS, landscape architect Planit-IE, and planning consultancy Turley advised on the 2014 application.