Liverpool CEO concern over Anfield expansion funding
(Reuters) - Liverpool's chief executive says the 60-70-million-pound cost of redeveloping the Anfield Road end of the club's iconic stadium is difficult to justify as a business deal.
Ian Ayre told a meeting of Liverpool Supporters' Committee (LSC) that it could take 15 years to pay back, which he said was "not a smart investment for the business".
Liverpool opened their redeveloped Main Stand earlier this season, raising seating capacity to more than 54,000, and have outline planning permission to extend Anfield Road by a further 4,800.
However, at the meeting, Ayre said it was difficult to justify the latest expansion from a business perspective.
The 114-million-pound ($141.76 million) construction of the Main Stand was funded by an interest-free loan from Liverpool's owner, Fenway Sports Group, which the club expects to repay in six years, mainly because the stand now contains more income-generating hospitality seats.
"A stand behind a goal doesn't have the benefit of hospitality that would go a long way to meet the redevelopment costs," Ayre said.
"If you consider the redevelopment of Anfield Road from a purely general admission perspective, building, say, 6,000 extra seats to take the capacity up to 60,000 would cost somewhere between 60 million pounds and 70 million pounds.
"At 12,000 pounds-to-13,000 pounds per seat, it would take approximately 15 years to pay back, which is not a smart investment for the business."
The chief executive said FSG was still looking for a "rounded solution" and appeared to leave the door open to the idea of supporters playing a part in raising the amount needed to redevelop Anfield Road.
When asked by LSC member Graham Smith if the club would appeal for financial support so that fans could get involved, Ayre said he could not speak for FSG or its plans, but said the proposition was an interesting one.
"We should have that conversation," he said.
($1 = 0.8042 pounds)
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru,; Editing by Neville Dalton)