Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan has admitted that the club is in a “holding pattern” when it comes to the Anfield Road Stand expansion project, following the news last week that Buckingham Group Contracting had filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators.
Buckingham is overseeing the £80m (€93m/$101m) expansion of the Anfield Road Stand, which will add 7,000 seats to Anfield and increase the stadium’s overall capacity to 61,000. On July 26, Liverpool announced that Anfield would operate at a reduced capacity for the opening exchanges of the 2023-24 season due to delays in the delivery of the stand.
As a result, the new upper tier of the Anfield Road Stand was closed for Liverpool’s first home match of the season against Bournemouth at the weekend, although the existing lower stand was open and operational. Liverpool said at the time that the additional capacity would be incrementally phased in during the course of future home fixtures, with a view to opening the new-look stand in October.
However, following the announcement last week that Buckingham had filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators due to a loss on venue projects, the Anfield Road Stand expansion has been put on hold. Buckingham said that while most areas of its business continue to perform strongly, this has been outweighed by “deep losses and interim cash deficits” incurred on its three major stadium and arena contracts, and a substantial earthworks contract
In a Q&A published on the Liverpool website yesterday (Wednesday), Hogan confirmed that major work effectively stopped on the site last Thursday morning following Buckingham’s announcement. Hogan said that the phased opening plan communicated by the club in July remains in place.
“Just to speak plainly, we are in a bit of a holding pattern right now based on the news that we got on Thursday and that needs to reach its conclusion before we can truly start to take the next steps,” Hogan said. “But if Buckingham does enter into administration then we’ll need to address any delays that may arise from completing the new stand as a result of that.”
When asked whether the October opening date would be affected by the news, Hogan said that the club is still aiming for October but is working to put a plan in place.
He added: “As I said, (there is) an unbelievable amount of work going on in the background, literally since we were made aware of Buckingham’s intentions, to make sure that we have as little impact on that timeline as possible. So, again, I don’t want to set false expectations but we do have to have, obviously, a schedule that we need to work towards.
“It’s hard to set that schedule based on what is happening immediately, but we are working through it having digested the announcement on Thursday and working over the course of the last several days and then any subsequent administration of Buckingham and what that means with regards to our contract with them and then the strategy and programme that we put forward.”
Liverpool’s next home match is against Aston Villa on September 3, and Hogan said that, based on the current situation, Anfield will operate at the same capacity for this fixture as it did for the Bournemouth game – around 50,000.
Hogan admitted that the club is “in a bit of the unknown” and apologised for any inconvenience the delay has had on supporters. City AM has reported that the delays will cost Liverpool an estimated £600,000 in lost income per game.
Buckingham, which posted turnover of £700m in 2022, said last week that it is exploring selling parts of its business, possibly within days, to keep afloat. The company’s other projects include an ongoing redevelopment of Fulham’s Riverside Stand.
The new Anfield Road Stand marks the fourth major capital build project undertaken by Liverpool in recent years, following the new Main Stand, the Anfield Megastore in 2017 and the opening of its AXA Training Centre in 2020. A fifth capital project was recently announced with the repurchase of Melwood, which will be the new training centre for Liverpool FC Women.
After the Aston Villa match on September 3, Liverpool will host West Ham on September 24 and Everton on October 21. The Europa League group stage also begins in September.