Red tape frustrates plans for Anfield


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Liverpool have demonstrated their mounting frustrations with the local council bureaucracy which they believe is destroying their hopes of staying at their Anfield home.

After the club's principal owner, John W Henry (pictured), hinted at suspicions over the transparency of Manchester City's £400m sponsorship deal with Etihad, Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre yesterday publicly lamented the "barriers to our ambition" being created by a host of logistical planning issues relating to a refurbished Anfield and admitted that a departure to a new purpose-built stadium in nearby Stanley Park is now the most likely outcome.

Of City's deal with Etihad, the Abu Dhabi airline which is investing up to £40m a year for a decade, Henry tweeted to a fan: "How much was the losing bid?" City insist that Etihad, owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family, is not being used as a vehicle to artificially inflate the club's balance sheet to enable City's owner to comply with the imminent Uefa Financial Fair Play rules – despite Etihad paying out a world-record sum, having failed to make a profit in its seven years.

The cheaper option of extending Anfield entails dealing with the problem of buying and demolishing nearby properties behind the Main Stand and also paying out money in a number of other ways – under what is known as Section 106 – to make an application for the expansion of the site acceptable. Liverpool's Section 106 agreement includes paying for a programme of community involvement of up to £700,000.

The necessary local infrastructure improvements required of Liverpool could take up to four years to complete and since the club will generate around £1.7m per home game next season, while Manchester United bank £3.6m, they simply cannot afford to stand still. Stand closures and a heavily reduced capacity for games would also be necessary during the rebuild.