Liverpool’s expansion of the Anfield Road remains on track as managing director Andy Hughes hailed the “wow factor” of seeing the £ 80m project’s progress.
The club officially started work at the end of the September when Jurgen Klopp put the first spade in the ground at an official ‘groundbreaking’ event at the stadium.
Back in 2019, it was initially thought that the plans would cost Liverpool around £ 60m to develop, but it is understood that figure has since risen by a third to £ 80m following the pandemic.
Liverpool are aiming to take their capacity up by a further 7,000 to 61,000 by the summer of 2023.
Storms Franklin and Eunice last month did threaten to hold up progress on the site, while the Reds’ ongoing pursuit of all four trophies has made work for contractors, the Buckingham Group, slower than initially anticipated as a result of the packed fixture list.
PAUL GORST: Chelsea sanctions make Liverpool boardroom change crucial as Abramovich leaves PL at critical juncture
READ MORE: Liverpool’s secret creative weapon is being let down by his team-mates
The construction company has previously taken on work at football stadiums, but there is an acceptance within the Group that the 2018 project to renovate the Riverside Stand at Fulham’s Craven Cottage pales in comparison to the expansion of the iconic Anfield.
Club officials say the development plan – the third major infrastructure project of the FSG era – is still on course for completion next year.
“It’s a big day, it’s really exciting and there’s lots of progress on site,” Mr Hughes told the ECHO. “The main message is: we’re on track.
“So obviously a lot of work has taken place already and we’ve had some poor weather lately, so to still be on track having come through the winter is all good news, so it is all positive.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ramifications of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union has caused some apprehension over the project, it is understood.
Buckingham Group are not expecting any issues over supplies from Eastern Europe but are braced for the situation to change given the volatile nature of Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine.
Get all the latest Liverpool breaking news, team news, transfer rumors, injury updates plus analysis of what’s next for the Reds.
You’ll also get the latest transfer talk and analysis every day for FREE!
Sign up here – it only takes a few seconds!
Those involved in the development on Merseyside, however, are anticipating big progress before the summer sets in.
Mr Hughes adds: “You can actually see the work when you’re coming in from Stanley Park now and I have to say, I see it every week and I get the ‘wow’ factor myself.
“It’s absolutely incredible the speed at which it is going up.
“It is going to be really big for the fans and by the summer you are going to see a significant change and you will get the full light of the building.”
Liverpool say they have yet to discuss the issue of naming rights as things stand and could look to recoup revenue through the individual sponsoring of each hospitality lounge within the new stand.
“We haven’t finally decided yet how to proceed with that specifically at the moment,” says the club’s MD, Mr Hughes.
“There are obviously opportunities to sponsor some lounges, so we’re still reviewing it all.”
The plans have been on the agenda for close to three years at Anfield, with the initial public consultation beginning way back in November 2019.
The proposals were forcibly shelved in April 2020 as the effects of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic started to become known.
A 12-month pause was placed on proceedings as Liverpool adjusted to the financial fallout of a three-month break in action for Klopp’s side before Liverpool were given permission to begin the redevelopment work by the council’s planning committee in June.