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Liverpool stadium expansion draws closer

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Liverpool owner John W Henry believes progress is being made to enable the Merseyside club to expand Anfield stadium.

The project, which replaced previous plans to build a new 60,000 capacity stadium, is not very popular with Liverpool fans, the local council, and the community, who were previously expecting a new stadium and commercial centre to bring new businesses and jobs to a deprived area of the city. 

When Fenway Sports Group bought the Merseyside club in 2010, they immediately made it clear that plans for a whole new stadium were too expensive just to increase the capacity by 15,000. 

This upset many locals, who were anticipating long-term prosperity created by the building of a new stadium. Unfortunately for them, the current plan, which is estimated to cost £154 million, will only make Anfield bigger and will not improve the local surroundings.

The local council supported the original plan of a completely new stadium on a new site because it would allow the current site to be demolished and regenerated with new businesses and homes, but that plan was scrapped.

However, the council is now supporting the current plan and it's right to demolish the privately owned homes which intrude on the plans. 

The plan to build a new stadium was originally conceived to have cost £140 million, but was later re-evaluated to be around £400 million, significantly more. 

According to SkySports.comHenry believes Liverpool City Council are working hard to buy all the privately owned housing around the stadium that could obstruct the expansion. 

"We are making good progress. There are a lot of different groups working very well together and that's the key to a big project like this happening, when everybody is on the same page. When everybody is on the same page, we move forward," he said

Many critics believe the project is simply to keep fans onside, and that the opportunities in building a new stadium on a new site are far bigger than what the current project can bring.

Demolishing the home of local residents to expand one stand is seen as unworthy of its purpose, and relationships between club and community will be strained, but Henry believes these are mere obstacles. 

"Obstacles are being overcome. We have always said you have to have certainty with regard to the properties because of the height of the stand and all of the issues regarding that. So that's been the biggest issue," he added. 

Henry believes the previous plan would have led to a huge amount of debt, but many fans think it was Liverpool's chance to compete on the same financial scale as Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City. 

"The previous regime (Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr) were talking about going out and borrowing an enormous amount of money to build an enormous new facility. That's not what we're doing. One of their problems was that they weren't able to get financing. When this (project) happens, financing won't be the problem," Henry explained. 

The Reds owner will have to continue working to find resolutions between the club and the community in order to create enough space to expand the stand. But the American businessman thinks this problem is being made smaller. 

"We just need certainty with regard to these properties and the number of properties that are in question keeps getting reduced," he concluded.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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