Liverpool have been given the go-ahead to expand Anfield by around 7,000 seats, taking the total capacity at their historic stadium to more than 61,000.
City council planners voted in favour of the redevelopment of the Anfield Road Stand on Tuesday, despite concerns expressed by residents and environmental groups about the impact on nearby Stanley Park. The Premier League club’s project is expected to be completed in 2023.
“This is a huge milestone in our journey towards bringing more supporters into Anfield,” said Liverpool managing director Andy Hughes. “We underwent a rigorous two-stage public consultation period during the planning process for this project and I would like to thank everyone who has offered a contribution to that.”
As part of the application, the club have also been given permission to hold up to six concerts and major events at the stadium for a period of five years. Liverpool also announced on Tuesday that they will install safety rails in two areas of the stadium on a 12-month trial basis.
In the Kop and the Anfield Road Stand a total of 7,800 seats will be updated in the trial, which will begin from the start of next season. The club insisted the areas will not be safe-standing zones, but an extra safety measure to combat the risk of fans persistently standing during matches.
“Anfield will remain an all-seater stadium and the trialled areas with the new seats and safety rails are not ‘safe standing’ areas,” Liverpool said in a statement. “The design is to enable fans to stand safely at key moments in the game, like goal celebrations, but must revert to a seat at other times.”
The death of 96 Liverpool fans during a FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield in 1989 led to an overhaul of stadium safety in England. Among a series of recommendations from the specially commissioned Taylor report was that all purpose built stadiums be all-seater.
However, Tottenham and Wolves are among the clubs to have also installed rails to improve supporter safety and to be prepared if regulations are relaxed to allow safe standing areas. Scottish giants Celtic have had a safe standing area for domestic games since the start of the 2016/17 season and they are commonplace in Germany’s Bundesliga.