Liverpool has been forced to pause plans to expand its Anfield Road Stand due to COVID-19, with the earliest target for the completion of the project having been pushed back 12 months to the summer of 2023.

The Premier League club had hoped to finish the project by the summer of 2022 but the current state of lockdown in the UK has caused delays for the construction and build programme. The complex nature of the construction requires that work take place in between seasons and therefore the impact will be at least a 12-month pause.

In February, Liverpool launched the second-stage public consultation of the proposed expansion of the Anfield Road Stand and the club had hoped to submit a planning application to Liverpool City Council this spring.

Liverpool said the proposed 18-month build schedule for the Anfield Road expansion project is similar to the new Main Stand, which opened in 2016. The club added that the complex construction process is highly dependent on a number of “time-sensitive variables” such as procurement, construction, sub-contractors, supply chain and the football calendar to allow the work to be carried out during the summer and ensure minimal impact for supporters.

Due to the current situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty in the construction industry, Liverpool has been forced to pause the project for at least 12 months.

Liverpool’s chief operating officer Andy Hughes said: “The complex build programme for Anfield Road is an 18-month process and needs two clear summer closed season windows in order for it to be successful. This is why we are pausing on the project for at least 12 months so the earliest we could complete the programme is summer 2023 rather than summer 2022 as originally planned. Given the planning application is no longer time-critical, it is our intention to submit our planning application at some stage during the next 12 months.

“We will use this period to review and consider options. When the football calendar and the wider delays to the construction and supply chain industries begin to plateau, we will provide further updates.”

The £60m (€69m/$74.8m) project would expand the capacity of Anfield from just over 54,000 to more than 60,000. The Anfield Road Stand currently has two tiers and the plans would see 5,2000 general admission seats added, along with around 1,800 lounge/sports bar-style hospitality options.

Liverpool confirmed in August that it would allow the planning permission for the Anfield Road Stand expansion, granted as part of the Main Stand project, to lapse in order to allow work to continue on alternative options with a view to submitting a new planning application. Liverpool revealed initial design plans for a new 16,000-seat Anfield Road Stand back in November.

Image: Liverpool FC