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Is Community Shield cancelled? Is Liverpool’s stadium plan on track?

By Tony Attwood

One of the great things about the World Cup is it allows reporters to forget all sorts of other things.  Like why does Arsenal.com have nothing on its web site about the Community Shield fixture?  Are we not playing?  They don’t even list it as a forthcoming match!

There’s more about this here, including a look back at all our Community and Charity shield appearances.

But meanwhile here’s another story.

Liverpool FC have now put in their application for planning permission to redevelop Anfield and increase the ground size to almost 59,000.  It is a development that is long overdue as this is, I think, the oldest ground in the Premier League.

It is also (and this is just my opinion of course) a ground whose atmosphere has suffered considerably in recent years.  When I used to go there with Arsenal before all-seater grounds, it was a noisy place.  Last time I went a couple of years back it seemed rather quiet as if everyone was waiting for the players to do their stuff, before they’d bother to make a sound.

Of course I know Highbury was accused of this, but I am not sure Highbury was as bad as Liverpool before this last season.

Anyway, that’s all opinion.  Here’s a list of the biggest stadia at the moment.

1: Old Trafford – 75731

2: The Emirates – 60.362

3: St James Park – 52,405

4: Stadium of Light – 48,707

5: Ethihad Stadium – 47,506

6: Anfield – 45276

7: Villa Park 42,785

8: Stamford Bridge – 41,798

9: Hillsborough: 39,732

10: Goodison: 39,571

So Liverpool have decided to join Tottenham Hotspur (no 12 with 36,284) in drawing up plans for a new stadium.  As we know Tottenham are still waiting for planning approval and a final resolution of the government funding, and it is interesting that while the press made so much about Arsenal’s battles with the local council for the building of the Ems, not much has been made either in relation to the process at Tottenham or in Liverpool.

Instead Liverpool have taken years to decide if they should have a new stadium or not.  Eventually they said no, bought up loads of local houses, have been accused of blighting the area, and now are going ahead with planning permission requests.

But not all the information is being made available, and some of the bits that are missing are, just like the missing information about this year’s Community Shield game, rather interesting.

However, let’s start with what we know.   First off we know the Main Stand gets bigger and goes up to 21,000 and the ground as a whole goes up to 58,500 which puts the ground in third position in the league above.

Now if planning is granted straight off, without any nasty questions and delays of the type that Tottenham must be utterly sick of by now, Liverpool plan to begin  construction in 2015 and open in September 2016.

That is incredibly fast as a process, and this is where the questioning begins.  To build that fast you need to build the whole year round.  So is any of the ground going to be shut while the building continues?   A simple yes/no answer might not be enough to keep everyone happy, since Tottenham have spoken for years about keeping the stadium going all the way through their development programme (which reached the stage Liverpool’s is at, some three years ago, but then stalled).

Now Tottenham are speaking not just of abandoning one stand for a season, but actually closing the ground and moving elsewhere for the third year of their building programme.

So if question one is, will the plans all be approved at hyper fast speed as the timetable suggests, question two is, how on earth do you build that quickly without moving the club out of the ground for a year?  And even then, is it really possible?

And those questions, about planning permission and speed of building, all assume the money is in place.  Maybe Fenway have the money and are ready to invest – if so they are lucky.  Arsenal borrowed money, and then used the sale of Highbury and the surrounding areas to help repay much of that money.

But if Liverpool’s owners have the estimated £150m lined up, and are ready to invest, what then?  Do they want the money back or are they willing for it to sit there are a long term investment?

If the latter is the case, it seems a curious investment – just sitting there.  My guess, and it is only a guess, is that once complete, they would start looking for a buyer.

But these are the key questions, and they are remarkably similar to the questions that there are about Tottenham’s development.

1: Is planning permission just going to be given on the nod? (In Tottenham’s case no, just as it wasn’t in Arsenal’s case)

2: Can the ground be upgraded without disrupting football or reducing the crowd? (That was at first thought to be possible at Tottenham but now clearly isn’t.  It looks unlikely at Liverpool, but they have an incredibly fast building plan so maybe it is).  For Arsenal it never applied, since we built a totally new ground.

3: Where does the money come from?  For Tottenham the answer is very unclear.  For Arsenal it was bank loans paid for from the sale of the old ground, and the upfront selling of naming rights etc.  If it is being provided by the owners, does that mean they won’t sell soon after?

These are the questions I am not sure are being answered.  Of course I might have missed the answers being given somewhere, but I can say that in most of the celebratory articles that appeared when planning permission was applied for, most were just cut and paste jobs from the Liverpool FC press release.

We wait, and shall see.  If Liverpool do move at the speed they say, Tottenham will be rather envious I suspect.

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29 comments to Is Community Shield cancelled? Is Liverpool’s stadium plan on track?

  • Mike T

    Interesting article.

    One minor thing in that Anfield is not the oldest stadium where a Premier League Club currently plays.

    Everton played at Anfield for several years before moving to Goodison but I can think of one stadium that pre dates 1884 , and just like Liverpool at Anfield this football team were not the original tenants of their stadium

    Guesses anyone?

  • Tamilgooner

    Hey Tony ,
    Quick question :
    Upgrading the existing stadium seems to be much cheaper than building a whole new stadium . What are the downsides to this ? (coz otherwise a new stadium is a luxury)

    Also how much was highbury sold for ? (and who is using it now ?)

    PS: Is London much more expensive than Liverpool for Land and building costs ? (I expect it is , but an idea of scale would be nice …)

  • blacksheep63

    @Mike T

    I would have guessed at Fulham or Villa but is it St James’ Park?

  • Mike T

    @Blacksheep

    St James Park Newcastle is the oldest of the three grounds you suggest completed around 1892.The same year as Liverpool started playing at Anfield
    The stadium where this Premier League team plays was built in 1877 although a bit of a trick question as football wasn’t played there for several years after it was built

  • nicky

    I have Sunday the 10th August for the Charity Shield but can’t recall from where I got that date.
    It could have been from my Gran (who cleans at the Emirates) and who may have seen the date on Arsene’s desk.
    On the subject of attendance, I remember Highbury holding 62,000, with most standing of course. Somehow, in the heat of battle in the top division of English football, it’s more natural to stand. But those days have gone with safety now being paramount.

  • Upgrading is much cheaper than starting afresh because you have the basics there already – most especially the land which is the key element. And if you keep some of the stadium as is, and bolt bits on, that saves a fortune.

    But that is always a compromise – so many bits don’t get improved. The changing rooms and entry tunnel etc at the Ems are 10,000% better than Highbury but that sort of thing can’t be improved generally in a development. The focus is just on seats.

    Highbury was hemmed in and couldn’t be expanded so it was not an option – but the new ground gave us far better views, much better facilities all around the stadium, much more leg room, and from the clubs point of view, the boxes and club level,which is where the big money is made by the club.

    Plus all top players want to play at grounds where the first impression is “Oh wow!”

    Highbury was rebuilt as apartments, and benefitted from the fact that Highbury is a desirable part of London – easy access to the centre, and the new development has parking too. Can’t recall the final income to Arsenal, but it was good.

    And yes, London is infinitely more expensive than anywhere else in the UK. A nice house in the East Midlands where I live might cost £500,000. In London the same house would cost £3 million.

  • hrishi

    @MikeT

    Stamford Bridge?- Know it was used for other sports, but not sure about the date

  • Highbury got over 70,000 people inside it on about five occasions I think. The highest attendance there was 73,295 v Sunderland 9 March 1935 in the League.

    The story of that game is at
    http://www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk/archives/5616

  • Stamford Bridge I know – it was built in 1910 and before that was an athletics ground and before that a coal tip and before that a railway yard for goods wagons.

    I know because 1910 is the year in which “Making the Arsenal” was set. It’s a novel. It was written by, oh, blimey, I can’t think who it was…. Anyone know?

  • Bill S.

    re the Spurs future development, how come a club that pays no tax ( they are registered offshore in the Bahamas or wherever their owner lives), is hoping for part the Tottenham regeneration scheme funds ?

    They are asking for taxpayers money but refuse to pay any. How can they even have the cheek to ask or be eligible ?

    Arsenal are registered in the UK and pay corporation tax. Will we be the only club that raised funds the hard way and paid its tax too ?

  • Mike T

    Yes twas indeed Stamford Bridge
    Built in 1877 was the home of London Athletics Club and also staged Shinty? The terracing was the waste from the Underground.
    In 1905 SB was purchased by the Mears family who expected Fulham to play at the ground but they didn’t take up the offer so Chelsea FC was formed.
    As an side I had a quick look and you would be able to buy a 2 bed flat around Anfield for about 70-100k. a 2 bed flat in some of the new developments around Chelsea Harbour or Imperial Wharf (both easy walk from Stamford Bridge) are between 1.5 & 3 million £

  • Mick

    Off topic. Fantastic goal by Joel Campbell for Costa Rico in the World Cup. He looks really sharp, but he can’t be any good he didn’t cost £40 million.

  • Mick,

    I felt very proud to hear: “Joel Campbell of Arsenal has levelled for Costa Rica”.

    But you are right, by not costing £40m, he can’t be good enough.

  • AL

    I posted on another thread how good Joel has been. Very impressed by his performance, and if it ends like this he’s definitely man of the match. And he’s outshining £56m man Cavanni who is playing for the stronger side of the two teams.

  • AL,

    If we didn’t already have Campbell and he is being touted to cost £40m, many Gooners would be clamouring for his signature. I am so looking forward to see the guy in our colours at last.

  • Mick

    Killer pass from Campbell to set up Costa Rico’s third goal. Campbell MOTM! Fantastic.

  • The guy can pass too. What an assist, what a player!

    Joel Campbell of Arsenal is out-performing a £50+m player in Cavani.

  • Mick,

    Are we seeing that most requested striking help for Giroud? And we still have our so called £100m reserve.

    I’m loving it.

  • Mick

    Bootoomee,
    Even Andy Townsend is eulogising about Joel Campbell!!!!

  • AL

    Bootoomee
    Yeah, they’d be screaming for Wenger to splash £40m+ on the boy 🙂 He’s special, I can’t wait to see him doing the business at the ems too.

    That was a nasty and cowardly swipe by Perreira, fifa should throw the book at him.

  • bjtgooner

    Campbell – another Wenger gem?

    Certainly had a great game tonight.

  • AL

    Thanks for the link Mick, accurately summed up his performance. He repeated the trick he pulled against utd in the champions league twice tonight, and almost pulled it off on both occasions. Just shows it wasn’t a fluke the first time. Sorry if I sound like I’m getting carried away but I’ve not been this excited by any one player in a long time.

  • jambug

    Is Joel DEFINITELY back at the Em’s next season?

  • jambug,

    Why won’t he be? He is our player. The only reason why he might not be with us next season is if AW doesn’t want him. And I seriously doubt that. The old man must be as excited about the guy as we all are.

  • jambug

    Bootoomee,

    That’s what I’m hoping and thinking Boo, but as with transfers, only when I see an official announcement from Arsenal themselves will I believe it.

  • jambug,

    This is not a transfer. Campbell is OUR player. Arsenal makes the decision about where he plays next season and no one else.

    Relax my friend, Campbell is coming home.

  • oldgroover

    Re Campbell. We’re going to get at least two more chances to assess him and decide on his worthiness to play in our squad next season. Given that we’ve already seen him a couple of times against Man U plus his performance yesterday I’d say it’s a certainty that we’ll have him over here. Why wouldn’t we? Not sure what position he’d play though. I always thought he was a striker, but the times I’ve seen him he always starts on the right, and moves inside to get into scoring positions. I doubt that a single striker role would suit his style, so would he be competing with Theo? Perhaps he could work the channels, but do we do that anymore? It’s going to be interesting. Anyway, yes he’s great, lets be having him.

  • NW

    I just do not see how those two building plans can work out.

    You need either people like those at Arsenal who manage things bit by bit in a organized way or you need those big business man oilers who get things done in very ruthless way back by a pile of cash.

    Otherwise, it would end up like all government projects… delays, overbudget, leakages etc