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Oct, 16, 2012

Liverpool: No Anfield naming rights deal

Liverpool have ruled out pursuing a naming rights deal to fund the planned £150 million development of Anfield.

• Blog: Cautious optimism over Anfield
• Ayre confirms Anfield plans
• Liverpool set to stay at Anfield
• Reds may sell Anfield naming rights

Managing director Ian Ayre has confirmed that the club's home will keep its name as expansion work is carried out to increase the capacity from 45,000 to around 60,000.

Club officials had held talks with a number of high-profile companies who were interested in putting their name to a proposed £300 million stadium in neighbouring Stanley Park.

But Liverpool have decided to stay put and plan to raise capacity by extending the Anfield Road and main stands.

"There won't be a naming rights deal for Anfield," Ayre told the Liverpool Echo. "It was only something we looked at when we were assessing the option of a new stadium.

"Naming rights was a difficult process, but we weren't without our suitors. We have had, and still have, interest around it.

"A new stadium would never have happened without it, but that was only one part of it. We had to balance the two possible options. It was about finding the best solution for the club and we feel very strongly that this is the right one.

"Our preference was always to stay at Anfield, and this is a major step forward."

The club will borrow money to fund the ground redevelopment, but Ayre says that will not affect the transfer budget.

"The right solution is the right economic solution," he said. "Rather than it detracting from our spending in the transfer market, the whole point of doing this is to actually increase our revenues."

Anfield's redevelopment, which is likely to start in 2014 if Liverpool get planning permission, will run in partnership with a city council project to regenerate the streets around the stadium.

The club's plan is to build over the existing stands during a close season in order to avoid the dip in revenue that would be suffered by playing in a ground with a reduced capacity.

However, other steps have to be taken before work can begin. First, Liverpool City Council has to get permission to demolish a number of houses near the ground as part of the regeneration project, which would then create space for the expansion of Anfield.

If that process is successful, Liverpool would look to submit a planning application for the redevelopment of the stadium next spring.

The club have joined the council and social housing provider Your Housing, which owns many of the properties near the ground, to set up a development board to oversee the project.

The board will include Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Your Housing chair Kathy Cowell, as well as local residents' representatives.

"The next steps are out of our hands," Ayre added. "It is not Liverpool that is acquiring the properties, it is the city council and Your Housing.

"If we get through this next stage, then it becomes [about] the role of the planners and whether our planning application will be accepted."

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