In Depth

Anfield redevelopment: Can Liverpool take the next step?

Another 8,500 people means more money and more noise on matchdays as Jurgen Klopp urges fans to get behind the team

Liverpool will play their first home game of the season against champions Leicester City on Saturday evening, in front of 54,000 fans at the newly-developed Anfield stadium.

The crowd will be the biggest since 55,000 people crammed into the ground to watch the final match of the 1976-77 season against West Ham. The club believes the opening of the new Main Stand, with its 8,500 extra seats, will help it rediscover the kind of success it enjoyed in the 1970s.

"After 17 years of false dawns, Fenway Sports Group formally ended the Merseysiders' stadium ordeal as the Main Stand was opened by Liverpool's principle owner John W Henry, FSG president Mike Gordon and chairman Werner," says Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph. "Anfield's capacity has been swelled to 54,000, the club finally believing they have a venue to match their status. Matchday revenues will now expand well beyond £59m a season."

That is still some way behind the £108m generated by arch rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, but it's a step in the right direction. And although the Main Stand redevelopment has taken four years "there are no plans to stop there," says The Times. "A capacity of 60,000 is often seen as the magic number for Premier League clubs and schemes are being mulled over for the redevelopment of the Anfield Road End, for which planning permission has already been granted, to accommodate another 6,000 fans."

Manager Jurgen Klopp was certainly impressed and described the new Main Stand as "one of the nicest I've ever seen in my life". 

But he was less interested in discussing building design and matchday revenues than the impact of the extra voices at Anfield. The German manager said he was impressed by the acoustics of the ground and urged fans to "be as loud as you can".

"When the game starts I ask for a little bit of support," he said. "If [the fans] come with their best performance I'll try and convince the players to bring their best performance and then maybe we have a real force."

His plea is echoed by former Liverpool star Jan Molby writing in the Liverpool Echo. "The new stand will propel Liverpool into the next century and show the club again as one of the biggest in Europe," he says. "The team need the support in every home game and it's been a while now since Anfield has consistently been a fortress.

"Jurgen Klopp knows the importance of that. It's a theme we've seen him return to a few times and I think it's because he knows what Anfield is capable of."

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