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JOHN W HENRY ON THE STADIUM QUESTION

by TheAnfieldWrap // 15 June 2012 // 80 Comments

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THE ANFIELD WRAP was recently invited to put some questions on an email to owner John W Henry. Of course we asked the stadium question – here’s his answer:

Q: Does refurbishing and renovating Anfield remain the favoured option on the future of the stadium? When do you expect to make a final decision on the club’s future home?

JOHN  W HENRY: “A long-term myth has existed about the financial impact of a new stadium for Liverpool. Maybe it became a good reason for selling the club at one point.

“Whatever the reason, a belief has grown that Liverpool FC must have a new stadium to compete with United, Arsenal and others.  No one has ever addressed whether or not a new stadium is rational.

“New stadiums that are publicly financed make sense for clubs. I’ve never heard of a club turning down a publicly financed stadium.

“But privately carrying new stadiums is an enormous challenge. Arsenal is centered in a very wealthy city with a metropolitan population of approximately 14 million people.

“They did a tremendous job of carrying it off on a number of levels. But how many new football stadiums with more than 30,000 seats have been built in the UK over the past decade or so?  I’m sure every club would like to move to a new facility.

“We’ve been exploring a new stadium for the past 18 months.  At one point we made it clear that if a naming rights deal could be secured of sufficient size, we would make every effort to build a new facility.

“Liverpool FC has an advantage in being a global club and a naming rights deal could make a new stadium a reality. It is something we are working on. There has been interest.

“Going in the other direction, many football clubs have successfully enlarged their seating capacity. LFC has had plans to expand the main stand at Anfield. But this avenue has been very difficult for the club over the past couple of decades.

“There are homes behind the main stand. Expansion of the main stand would have to be a priority for the city, community and immediate neighborhood in order for that to occur. And there are many people who feel this expansion should be welcomed.  This issue is vital to the neighborhood’s future, but we cannot and will not act unilaterally.

“While a new stadium or an expansion of Anfield is beneficial over the long-term for the club, the financial impact of adding seats and amenities should be put into perspective. That’s why I say that it is a myth that stadium issues are going to magically transform LFC’s fortunes.  Here is a chart based on 10/11 match-day revenue.

 


“Can Liverpool as a community afford Chelsea or Arsenal prices?  No.”It is often said that for Liverpool to compete in match-day revenue with United, Arsenal and Chelsea, we need a new stadium.  But you can see that the £50 or £60 million differences stem as much from revenue per seat as from the number of seats. Even if Liverpool were able to get to 60,000 seats, there would have to be an increase from £900 to £1550 in revenue per seat as well to catch Arsenal.

“If Anfield yielded £1550 per seat, without adding seats, LFC match-day revenue would rise from £41M to £71M.  That would be the same as building a new stadium with 60,000 seats or increasing seating at Anfield and increasing revenue per seat to £1170.

“There also is this feeling that if you add concessions and amenities such as Arsenal did at Emirates, your “per-cap” (how much is spent on concessions per person) goes way up, but the last time we checked the per-cap at Emirates was only £0.50 higher.

“The allure of a new stadium and/or refurbishment is no different at Anfield then it is anywhere in the world. New stadiums increase revenues primarily by raising ticket prices – especially premium seating.

“In America, as an example, 3 NFL (American football) clubs have moved into new stadiums over the past 3 years.  The New York Jets average ticket price rose by 32% when they moved into their new stadium.  The New York Giants rose by 26% and the Dallas Cowboys rose by 31%.  In baseball, ticket prices rose 76% when the New York Yankees moved into their new stadium 3 years ago.

“At Emirates Stadium match-day revenues rose 96% the first year while seats had increased 57%.

“Building new or refurbishing Anfield is going to lead to an increase from £40M of match-day revenue to perhaps £60-70M if you don’t factor in debt service.

“That would certainly help, but it’s just one component of LFC long-term fortunes. Our future is based not on a stadium issue but on building a strong football club that can compete with anyone in Europe.

“This will be principally driven financially by our commercial strengths globally.”

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80 Comments

  1. Really impressive response,

    Personally I have always felt there is much potential for a bigger stadium, so long as there was an appropriate mix of expensive and inexpensive seating. High cost luxury seats for the wealthy mixed with cheaper seats for those perhaps who live within a Liverpool postcode. This would;
    a) improve attendances
    b) be better for local supporters who are currently excluded from the match due to pricing
    c) better atmosphere as games will be attended by those who truly love the club and are more likely to make a noise – helping the players in the process and bringing about more success.

    I always envisioned say a 60-75k stadium with 4 expensive stands and one huge Kop stand with VERY cheap tickets. Perhaps even as standing rather than seating, to really push up the potential attendances – although there are obvious implications of this for LFC in particular. Also the return of a paddock for children even cheaper entry there.

    Thats my ideal solution anyway – prob not achievable like.

    Would also love to see the Football Quarter now become a reality. LFC to open bars and outdoor beer stalls where people to congregate pre game, have some bevvies and get into the match day spirit. Big TV screen showing classic games, maybe a band playing LFC songs. Even if the revenue would not be great I really think this would improve atmosphere and boost the local area too…

    • Henry mentioned the 3 NFL teams The New York Jets and Giants whose shared stadium cost $1.7 BILLION
      Dallas Cowboys Stadium cost $1.4 BILLION
      Can stadiums that cost that much and ticket prices be used in comparison to a stadium that will cost $470 million?
      Is it really any surprised they had to put up ticket prices????????

  2. Great response. These guys talk sense. They seem to cut through a lot of the bullshit and actually see whats going on. Very interesting figures quoted, assuming they’re accurate, maybe we all need to obsess less about a new stadium and just concentrate on the general bigger picture of building for the future.
    exciting summer/seasons ahead.

    • Totally agree .. this emailed answer tells us, if it’s true, that real due diligence and business understanding in a micro and macro way are being applied to the decision making process … good work fellass getting the email answer

  3. Great coup guys! JWH really puts things in perspective. My thoughts has always been that FSG would look to maximise the overseas revenue rather than focus to much on stadium development.
    It now seems obvious that ROI does not stack up for a new stadium.
    Also demonstrates that we have at last a financially astute management team.

    • What about tapping into the 75 million tourists Liverpool attracts? Shops,hotels,restaurants could all be incorperated into a new stadium the city of Liverpool is just as big as an attraction as LFC is this is what FSG is missing.

      • 75 million tourists? Over how long? If you mean per year that’s 1.5 million tourists a week. The population of Liverpool is only half a million. Besides, how many of those tourists choose to dine and shop in the Anfield area of the city?

        • The original figure comes from the Museum of Liverpool.
          Bit more research!
          Figures are connected to when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture. Liverpool University impact report.
          Overall tourism trends in 2008
          – In 2008 there were an estimated
          27.7 million visits to Liverpool, a 34% rise
          on the previous year; and 75.1 million visits
          to Merseyside, a 19% rise on 2007.
          Liverpool 6th most visited city in UK
          Liverpool is one of the top 100 visited cities in the world.
          The figure might not be as high as 75 million now but there is a huge tourist trade going into the Liverpool and Merseyside area.
          A new stadium with modern facilities surrounding it would be an attraction to football fans and none football fans which is the market that LFC needs to tap into. Lot of talk from Ian Ayre and Henry about 15k seats but what about the 365 day effect a new modern stadium would bring revenue wise?

  4. I have thought this way for years.
    It’s all very well building 100 Corporate Boxes if you are in London – but in Liverpool? Who is going to pay for them? From what I know, there are as many ex-players using the current 21/23(?) Boxes at Liverpool as Corporate Clients.
    The same goes for Corporate seats at 2 or 3 times the price of a normal seat – but obviously to a lesser extent
    As for the ”waiting list”, there may be 20,000 on it, but when push comes to shove and the club asks for £780 from people, how many are going to decide not to do it – for what ever reason?
    I understand that many of the new season tickets made available last season did not go to those first people who were offered them!
    So, it leaves us with the core support + a few thousand who WOULD be willing to buy a season ticket.
    Now imagine that that the club’s transition with the New owners and New Manager takes a little longer to come to fruition than everyone hopes – and a few thousand lose interest, can’t be bothered waiting or don’t think it’s worth the money? So we lose a few thousand!
    Add all this to the completely honest and unveiled ”threat” or should it be realistic notion from John Henry, that ALL clubs who build new stadia end up having to substantially increase their prices.
    I truly believe LFC should concentrate on what’s happening on the pitch!!
    OK I am lucky that I have a Season Ticket, and I appreciate there are many people who are desperate to attend every game, but I honestly don’t believe this is would amount to more than about 5000 on a week in week out basis.
    We therefore do not need to spend all this money on a New Stadium, I do think, however, we could achieve almost this amount by putting another tier on the Anfield Road Stand, a much less controversial project from what I understand.

  5. Ask a sensible question get a sensible answer.
    This should be posted and kept up on every single lfc forum out there to increase awarness and understanding.

    • Absolutely agreed mate… Common sense.. Lets concentrate on winning and competing with the most successful teams.. New stadiums dont bring success!

      • Look at Arsenal, they don’t seem to have near the amount of resources since they built the Emirates. Buying on the cheap and not winning anything since.

      • The old stadium doesn’t bring Liverpool sucess either! lol

  6. Well reasoned response on the Stadium there. I think it was John Henry who once said something along lines that fans are willing to make the trade off of increased ticket prices if it means we see more competitive and attractive football.

    And we are hopefully no more than 2 years from achieving that, but what’s interesting is that Man City are there right now. Yet its staggering to see the gulf in revenue between them and Man Utd, if the trend is still reflected in more recent figures and they can’t charge the same people of Manchester what they do at Old Trafford. Then how can Man Utd? Where do those wealthier fans come from, OOT?

    Also surprising is how even with more seats Newcastle are trailing behind Liverpool. I think that tells us price per seat is misleading as there is a huge distinction between a seat in the stands and one in a corporate box.

    What this says to me is first we upgrade Anfield to bridge the gap in terms of corporate seats and other amenities. Once we are successful on the pitch combined with huge commercial games to match Man Utd, we can consider a new shiny 80K seater stadium in Stanley Park to take us to the next level ……..but first we must walk before we can fly.

  7. Really impressive response.

    Seems to me that he’s testing the water about the possibility of raising ticket prices.

    How would we all feel if they raise the price of a seat by (say) 30%? Currently, I think that the economics would come into play and that Anfield would still sell out. People would rightly complain about a hike in ticket prices, but LFC is a business. Supply and demand forces would still mean that even though some local Scousers might not be able to afford to go to every home game, the tickets would still be sold to other people who are happy to pay that extra bit more, possibly based on the assumption that they won’t be buying a ticket themselves for every home game.

    It’s a difficult situation, but I think that economics will eventually win over.

  8. The last thing we need is a 30% rise in ticket prices. I also agree that Liverpool can’t sell the same corporate packages as Utd and the London clubs. I’m not even convinced LFC can fill 60k seats week in week out unless the team are really pushing for the title. Some of the attendances over the past 2 seasons under Dalglish’s reign suggest it’s by no means a foregone conclusion that they can.
    Personally, I think this interview is further proof that some people have been too harsh on FSG over the past couple of months.

    • “The last thing we need is a 30% rise in ticket prices.”

      Playing devil’s advocate here, but from a business point of view here, that’s kind of what we do need. More income leads to better players, which leads to an bigger chance of winning trophies. And that’s what we all want.

      If you’re paying £35 per match at the moment, but the same ticket goes up to £50 next season, then what do you do? You have a choice of making a sacrifice elsewhere and paying the extra cash to watch it. It’s your choice. If you decide not to pay the extra tenner, then someone else will happily pay the extra tenner and take the seat instead.

      I think it comes down to the fans at the end of the day. The regulars want to go to every game and understandably don’t want to pay higher prices for their tickets. But when there’s a season ticket waiting list of over 20,000, the dilemma for FSG is whether they want to start to price out the regulars and start to ask the 20,000 if they want to pay a few quid more than what the regulars want to pay. It would eventually end up as a different crowd at Anfield. More consumers who are prepared to pay £50 for a ticket and just go to 4-5 home games per season. At the moment, it’s more or less a “closed shop” at Anfield – the same people go every week. But as the fanbase grows, FSG will want to take advantage of this and squeeze more money out of the gate receipts.

      From a personal point of view, I only go back 4 or 5 times a year. If I can get a ticket, and it costs me £50 rather than £35, then it wouldn’t really bother me. But if I went every week, then it certainly would bother me.

      If FSG know they can sell out every week (I know this is an assumption), then do they care whether the capacity is made up of regular Scousers or daytrippers?

      I doubt it. They will just want increased revenues.

      • Greg,

        You’ll be lucky to get a ticket for £35 mate….

        • Greg, I appreciate you’re saying that you’re just playing devils advocate but i totally disagree. People are already struggling to pay for their season tickets. When we had a 3 days at Wembley I was helping people sell their season tickets for games like West Brom and Fulham because they couldn’t afford to spend any more money on LFC matches. Demand was low, even at the slightly reduced rate of £40. There were games just after Kenny took over where the attendance was 39 and 40k. In truth, I’m noticing a lot of people (certainly my mates) have decided to go halves with someone on their ticket for next season. Times are hard. People have to put their families first.
          Whilst they’re going up in line with inflation people will renew their season tickets happily. A hike to over a thousand pound a year will have people thinking twice. Also, not that many will choose to pay around £55 to go and watch games against the bottom half teams around March and April if we’re not in contention. You said yourself you only go to 4 or 5 games a year. A lot of people are like that.
          Appreciate your point about more revenue means better players but I’m confident (and would rather) that FSG can raise that revenue through their business idea’s. I don’t want to see Liverpool fans funding it.

    • Some of the attendances over the past 2 seasons under Dalglish’s reign suggest it’s by no means a foregone conclusion that they can.

      Which ones? Only Fulham and chelsea undersold last year, 3 or 4 days either side of an FA cup final. WBA was slightly lower but every other league game was pretty much sold out (for home fans).

      (Source – http://lfcstats.co.uk/20112012attendances.html )

  9. The points made are well thought out and obvious to those in major financially based business. However, does no-one else think that the lack of any movement on any stadium investment have a lot to do with the oncoming implication of FFP. As I understand FFP, monies invested in amenities, stadium, facilities etc mean the amount spent can also be written in to extra spending on the squad/ playing staff. So would it not make more sense to hang fire on any spending (internally financed or dare I say it borrowed re: stadium) so as to make us more competitive on the field through player investment.
    Anyways, ramble off.
    Good podcast, boys.
    Keep it up, keep it red, keep it Scouse!

  10. As always, an articulate, rational and reasoned response from JH. Hopefully some of our louder fans will give the fella a bit of time now.

    These things, particularly an issue as complex as this, with UK rules and regs, was always going to take longer than some were prepared to give. However, I do feel that FSG could perhaps have helped themselves by being a little more communicative than they’ve been.

    Better late than never though and an excellent and thorough answer. Good work all round…

    • I’d guess they didn’t communicate previously as they’d been informed that LFC did their dealings behind closed doors.

  11. I think that the response from JWH was intelligent and realistic about the stadium situation. I for one would love to see LFC running out at a new stadium in Stanley Park, but not at the detriment of alienating the community and pricing out the working man. I think as a set of supporters we should think long and hard about how we can all move forward. It is of my opinion that a realistic alternative would be to ground-share with Everton at Stanley Park. It would make a lot sense and it would benefit the community as whole. Both clubs want to move forward and progress as institutions within the game but the myth about losing one’s identity by ground sharing is diverting the most important issue. Does LFC want to stay competitive, does Everton want to stay competitive in the top flight of our country? I say build a football themed park surrounding a new joint-stadium , create jobs for the community and regenerate the area. Everyone’s happy and lets all move forward. By the way that piece by JWH was great and told me everything I wanted to know – this level of communication has been missing over the last 10 years!

  12. A very well communicated message, but ultimately one that is not what LFC fans want to hear. Essentially FSG needs to find a sponsor that will pay silly money for naming rights for a new stadium, or there needs to be a breatkthrough with the council/community so that Anfield can be pimped. Neither of which seem likely.

  13. Great coup.
    However,its all well and good trying to increase annual revenue per seat.
    But will mean nothing until they sort the farce that is the ticket office out.
    To maintain and keep these bums on seats
    On that Q&A it seems like we are nowhere near a stadium decision,what is clear is that adding say an extra 10-15,000 corporate seats,boxes and match day hospitality is what they want.
    Makes sense really to do it this way on a financial sense, however it atill doesnt help matters,IMO the area needs a huge boost and its about time that the club the council and Everton FC along with local residents sat around a table and thrashed out some bold new ideas for the area.
    With a dedicated transport link and a massive boost in the local economy can only help attract investors and really push the club and the area forward.
    The football quarter idea is a great idea and should be seriously looked at

  14. I really wish we could just simply add onto the main stand. How many houses are currently boarded up along that street…80%?? Presents a harsh problem of possibly forcibly buying people out of their homes, but I don’t see how LFC can grow Anfield without taking over those houses.

    It also doesn’t seem that the Liverpool council is doing ANYTHING to help the club. Seems like they are always making things tougher.

  15. I think one of the more interesting aspects of the interview is this bit

    “Expansion of the main stand would have to be a priority for the city, community and immediate neighborhood in order for that to occur. ..This issue is vital to the neighborhood’s future, but we cannot and will not act unilaterally.”

    So what is that likely to mean in practice? It sounds to me that John is suggesting that the Council will need to play a much bigger role in making this project happen. Compulsory purchases is one option but might he also be suggesting that the council needs to ‘give’ the land to LFC to ease the cost of the redevelopment and perhaps also pay for improved transport links rather than keep looking to the club to finance these improvements. My guess is that John is playing a long game to re-orientate the Council’s expectations about what is commercially realistic for the club because historically the council has viewed LFC as a cashcow to be milked rather than as a wealth generating asset of the city which needs to be supported – in the way other businesses receive grant aid and tax breaks if they move into the city.

    • I don’t think LFC would need the Council to gift them the land that the current houses stand on, because, as I understand it, LFC already own most of the houses behind the main stand that are now derelict.
      Compulsory purchase orders are probably what the club are asking of the council.
      These are peoples homes (in some cases anyhow) so the needs, sentiments and wishes of these people need to be respected.

  16. For me, it confirms they are not in for the long haul. This is not a 5 or 10 year issue. Its a 25-50 year issue. This is not about ticket revenues for the next 5 years, its about providing a ground that can meet existing and future demand, and that facilitates younger and less well off fans being able to go. This would secure the future of the club.

    Another point. The aim shouldn’t be to match other clubs, it should be to beat them, outwit them through unique thinking. Where are the original thought processes? The football quarter is such a good idea, it would be a travesty if something didnt come of this, and we get left with this piecemeal compromise. Be bold.

    They only care about TV money, then it will be Internet Subscribers when that comes in…and that is it….the bottom line…so no surprise that the justification is based on a series of numbers. Never mind the trophies or the soul of the club.

    Harsh on FSG? They sacked Dalglish….Kenny Dalglish after one rebuilding season…even though he won a cup. Jeez.

    • This is exactly the problem with supporters like you. He clearly said it wouldn’t make a long term difference eithrr if people can’t pay 25-30% higher fopr the new stadium.

      Liverpool is nto as highly populated as London/Manchester neither does it have people who can spend as much as the Londoners.

      The only way is to redevelop and add mroe premium seats(read corporate) and get that Avg.reve per seat to 1100 or so.

      Once you start playing well, more and more sponsors will start pouring in.

      Understand rather than being thick headed.

      • The longer we leave it the more expensive it becomes!
        The new stadium should be more than just a football ground just read 75 million tourist visit Liverpool every year! You build a modern stadium with a top infrastructure surrounding it like hotels, shops, bars, restaurants, coffee shops it would be an all year round money making attraction.
        Club near me has a bank,coffee shop,restaurant around the ground and they are now building a shopping plaza and they are a Championship team!

        • Visit Britain say 30 million overseas tourists visit the UK annually. Add them to the population of the country of around 60 million. So are you really saying that nearly every overseas visitor and every person in the UK visits Liverpool once a year? 75 million people in Liverpool over a year means an average of 1,442,307 people per week – that in a city of around 400,000. So 3 out of every 4 people you see on the street are visitors? Really? No wonder FSG are frustrated by the nonsense talked.
          Back in the real world, what John Henry is saying is that the marketing of the LFC brand worldwide will probably draw in more nett cash than a vanity project like the new stadium. There’s nothing wrong with Anfield that a careful development plan wouldn’t fix.

          • Take it up with the Museum of Liverpool where I got the original number from and Liverpool University who did an impact report on Liverpool being the European Capital of Culture. From the report:
            Overall tourism trends in 2008
            – In 2008 there were an estimated
            27.7 million visits to Liverpool, a 34% rise
            on the previous year; and 75.1 million visits
            to Merseyside, a 19% rise on 2007
            Liverpool and Merseyside is a tourist destination for foreigners and day trippers and locals.
            Another report saying 5 million visited Liverpool City Centre last November alone.

          • 1.4 million people live in the Merseyside area.

  17. I thought Martin Broughton said that it was non-negotiable that the new buyer must have the funds for a new stadium?

    So why haven’t they? Or why won’t they?

    Was Broughton lying when he said that. Or did FSG lie to him by saying they had the money?

  18. Some people would think the club needs to pay X times over market value for those houses though. Anfield Wrap re-tweeted a comment by an local. If LFC can pay Carragher 90k per week, then they can pay the house owners proper compensation (read: whatever they want).
    But, LFC’s expansion needs to be seen not only as a club issue , but a community issue. There has been attempts post dalglish to try to draw parallels between FSG and H&G. It would be good to promote both sides of the argument. What does the local community think about relocation, compensation etc.

    • I’ve read that the compulsory purchase orders work on the basis of fair market value for the house plus 10% and a further15% moving stipend. Personally I would prefer the club didn’t get into this scenario because of the animosity it will create in the local community. Also if the land is available in Stanley park reroute the road at the Annie road end and go up there. Build new plush houses for the residents behind the main stand and pay them the moving stipend these are all options that could be explored in conjunction with local residents to see which they favour.
      Based on what they did with Fenway park I’m certain that redevelopment of anfield would be the option FSG prefer and it would seemingly make more sense from the financial point of view

  19. It certainly looks like FSG are leaning towards the restructuring Anfield option which in my humble opinion is not a bad thing.

    Ticket prices are already getting beyond peoples pockets these days so would it really be prudent to build a say 70,000 seater and gamble on filling it with the inflated ticket prices that building it would entail.

    Personally I think FSG need to bite the bullet very soon and get to work with the people of L4 on what is the best way to redevelop Anfield.

  20. I wonder what Jim Boardman makes of this? It all makes sense to me that perhaps the stadium doesnt necessarily make financial sense, but Jim (who I like) made quite a premedidated agitation attempt on this.

    I remember thinking ‘here we go’ when I heard it on your excellent podcast. I’d be very interested to hear his thoughts in the light of this response.

  21. True wickedness here.
    All of the first responses look to be drafted from Fenway’s pr department.

    IGNORE the fact we’re one of the world’s great clubs. ( Ok we WERE anyway).

    IGNORE the fact they just want to squeeze prices even more

    IGNORE the fact they don’t want to compete.

    Its clear corporate downsizing. Take a great club. And turn it into an overpriced, crap “brand”.

    Watch em keeping on increasing the overdraft facilities tho’

    Took over the club on false pretences. Only in it for profit.
    Kenny was the scapegoat, masking their lack of investment on the pitch.
    Now, they’re bxxxxing round, off the pitch.

    Charlatans, parasites, just like the last monkeys.
    Ignore pr articles and their staff pretending to be applauding fans.

    They’re killing our national sport!
    Ducking the new ground, ducking even some mickey mouse expansion.
    In it for a quick buck, and don’t care what they destroy in the process.

    Yanks? NO THANKS!!

    • There’s always one idiot isn’t there who is unwilling, or incapable, to contribute meaningfully to the discussion. Well done everyone else…I appreciated hearing your thoughts.

  22. I thought the Local council had released plans to demolish houses behind the main stand the other week, and plan to start demolishing this summer. This has led to rumours the main stand would be re-built and Anfield road expanded?

    • I get to Anfield about half a dozen times a year paying between 45 to 50 a seat depending on the opposition.Many an occasion I am seated next to people from out of town who are basically there on a “jolly” who know next to nothing about the game , they just wanna see the celebrity players and tell the folks back home they were at Anfield.This is the price LFC have paid for selling it`s soul to the corporate monster that is revenue building. They had no choice however, If LFC want to compete at the highest level it doesn`t matter a tinkers cuss who owns them.LFC are a global brand because of their success. Success on the pitch is the key to everything.I`m glad to see FSG are moving in that direction.

      • As an out of towner, I insulted that because I wasn’t born in L4 you assume I’m on a jolly and just there to see the star players. I have followed LFC for over 30 years and pay an average of £200 pound to see 90mins of football maybe twice a season and feel privileged to have done so (Thank god I never travelled when woy was in charge).

  23. A fair and well reasoned response but not necessarily one which a lot of people want to hear. The impression I’m getting from JWH and the FSG board is that they appear to see the club as more than just a short-term business venture, which can only be good for us given the almost catastrophic events under the ownership of G&H. Equally, I’m encouraged by JWH’s prudent approach to spending, we live in difficult financial times and I certainly do not want to see our great Club going the way of Rangers FC, Portsmouth FC et al.

  24. I think this attempt at transparency is a response to the pressure that has piled on since Kenny sacking and the end of the FSG honeymoon. We were told by Broughton that a stadium solution was a pre-condition of a purchase from H&G.

    Clearly this was not enforced in contract probably due to the impending administration.

    Economically Liverpool cannot be compared fairly with London – I accept that point of view – it CAN however be reasonably compared with Manchester.

    The sizable revenue per seat they have achieved is a consequence of 2 major factors.

    Overseas – ‘Tourism Fans’ flying in from all over the world on matchdays – (they can because of the seating capacity of the stadium) and spending a fortune in the Megastore.

    Corporate – United’s corporate is over 100 boxes + several suites for ticket plus meal.

    Liverpool’s response to enquiries about boxes is – we will put you on our waiting list. Then they make no attempt to contact you with alternates – match deals etc – very poor.

    United have a more slick approach and market very well to corporates - we are still missing out on both of these markets through under capacity.

    All makes me very nervous about the depth of FSG’s pockets

    • I think this is partly JH’s point when he says, “Our future is based not on a stadium issue but on building a strong football club that can compete with anyone in Europe.”

      United brings in vastly more “Tourism Fans” and corporate dollars because they’ve got a stronger brand, built as to them in the last couple decades when the PL went world-wide (Liverpool built its brand in the decades prior to satellite tv, internet, etc.).

      Liverpool’s fan base may be the most loyal, but the club can’t realistically support an Old Trafford-like set up until its again competing for league titles and making deep runs in Europe most every year. Then demand will require a new stadium.

      I think this is building for the long game – but it’s also establishing the horse before the cart.

  25. JH: “But how many new football stadiums with more than 30,000 seats have been built in the UK over the past decade or so?”

    Celtic privately built a 61,000 seater stadium in an impoverished part of Glasgow in 1995 and it has filled for home games ever since.

    • In what way is Celtic Park a new stadium? New stands were built on the existing site, just as JH is proposing.

  26. If you build it they will come.

    • My Son would love one but his £160 per week wages aint going to double over night and I guess nobody else’s is either, so where does the money come from?

  27. £300m to build a stadium is a lot of money for a club not in the champions league. I think maximising commercial revenue and getting back into the champions league is more of a priority.

    You only have to look at Bayern Munich to know that relying on match day revenue to compete is bit of a myth.

    More commercial deals like warrior and standard charterd is what we need in the next 1-3 years. A new stadium would bring us an extra £30m per year. But we’d need to pay off the £300m loan + interest. Warrior + SD is £45m per year and costs the club nothing. If you were owner what would you do?

  28. I think John W Henry is playing devils advocate, he is not saying he is not going to do anything just that he is calmly and methodically looking at all the options to make sure the sums add up and that any project is economically viable. I do think we need to do something whether that will be redeveloping and expanding Anfield or a new stadium, there is clearly huge demand for tickets (at the right price) and we need to exploit that providing we find the right solution.

    I feel sorry for the residents who live directly around Anfield who have had this uncertainty for years, it looks like this saga will run on and on and on.

  29. I wonder about Henry’s motivation

    *IF* Henry didn’t own Liverpool, and was simply commenting as a qualified and interested observer, I would believe him 100%

    BUT he has an agenda, he *IS* owner, and therefore does have an agenda, which is to not take any financial risk, so that makes me wonder

    Liverpool could definitely fill a large number of corporate boxes – maybe not 100, but people would train up from the South, come from across the North, fly in from abroad – with the right proposition, pricing and marketing – there is *NO QUESTION* in my mind that those boxes could generate big revenue

    I have worked in sports marketing for masses of major brands and can say with confidence this is the case…

  30. Very interesting email from John Henry. The only thing I’d take issue with is his pessimism around increasing Liverpool’s annual revenue per seat. Manchester is very similar geographically and economically to Liverpool and the huge gap between City and United shows the importance of success and history in attracting fans. Liverpool needs to be more savvy; for years United and Arsenal have been bringing coach loads of Scandinavian fans over and giving them a meal before the game, while Liverpool have let third party operators cash in with similar schemes. Barcelona follow a similar model, where tourists buying the more expensive seats effectively part-subsidise the locals.

    Although I don’t want Anfield to become as soulless as a lot of other Premiership grounds, I appreciate that the only way Liverpool are going to see a substantial increase in transfer funds (because of FSG and FFP) is through match day revenue, and I cannot see Liverpool doing that purely through increasing the number of seats.

    There seems to be small but growing amount of criticism of FSG recently, but I don’t really see what else they can be expected to do regarding the stadium than take a measured approach that thoroughly weighs up the relative merits of a new stadium versus redevelopment.

    • “I appreciate that the only way Liverpool are going to see a substantial increase in transfer funds (because of FSG and FFP) is through match day revenue”.

      This is the myth Henry is referring to. People are just conditioned to think that the only way forward is to increase match day revenue. Lets compare Bayern Munich 2011 revenue to Arsenal.

      Bayern

      Matchday: £65m
      Commercial rev: £160.5m

      Arsenal

      Matchday: £93.1m
      Commercial: £46.3m

      Bayern’s matchday revenue is 30% less than Arsenal yet their total revenue is 22% higher than Arsenal’s due to their substantial commercial deals.

      If we maximised our commercial potential I think we’d be bringing in more revenue than every PL club apart from United in the next 2-3 years. To compete with United, Barca and Real though I think the only way would be to ground share a new 70k seater with Everton which includes the football quarter and other amenities etc. split the cost 3 ways between us, Everton and the council. Milan and bayern share a stadium and i dont think their identity has been diluted because of that. A ground share makes the most sense economically.

    • There`s an article in today`s observer by David Conn where he says that the faliure of Spurs to build a new stadium is stifling their on-pitch ambitions. Likewise, with Liverpool, the redevelopment of Anfield should be an urgent priority. Too much talking and not enough action.

  31. Arsenal’s attendances went up 21k not 30k. Highbury nearly a 40k seater stadium 60k in Emirates.
    What about the extra directors boxes? Revenue from shops,coffee shops,bars,banks,restaurants,gym, conference rooms and all the extras a new stadium brings?
    Modern football stadiums are more then just football grounds they are a money making machines that can become the centre of a community with the right tenants in money can be made.

  32. Another thing to consider is this. Since Arsenal moved into the Emirates they havent won a trophy. The stadium costs has affected their ability to compete in the transfer market and has put them in a position where they struggle to keep their best players through having to be prudent with wages. Are we prepared to go through say a 10 year period of being financially prudent while playing in a nice new stadium?

    In my opinion Liverpool and Everton should already be sharing a big shiny stadium on the albert dock. This should have been ventured in the late 90s.

  33. Share stadium with surrounding shops, restaurants etc, and perhaps even a Liverpool FC Hotel for foreign/out of town fans to stay at as part of ticket packages etc.

    • It won`t ever happen. I`m originally from Bristol and even there its a taboo subject, not to mention the two Sheffield clubs.

  34. A well written and argued response. It shows the cash source increase is global tv rights, merchandising, etc, from not an extra 15,000 seats in a new stadium costing £300m plus which has to be financed. However, I think the match going fan is still going to be hit in the pocket.

    The loyalty of all fans should be acknowledged equally, whether you live in Liverpool or further afield, whether you have premium seats or non premium seats. Why should someone in Liverpool get cheaper pricing, when someone living in a less than wealthy part of a northern or central uk city be expected to pay more.

    Despite the statement from Ian Ayre on 13 May 2012, that all ticket prices will be frozen, to repay the fans royalty, certain sections of the loyal Liverpool faithful are facing a 30% increase in the cost of their season tickets. Yes they are holders of ‘premium seats’ but is their loyalty any less valuable than the other fans who are not being burdened by such a huge cost increase.

    Increases in ticket prices is something we all wish to avoid, but when we get misleading statements from club officials around ticket prices, not backed up with actions that reflect those words, its a concern.

    I think we should all brace ourselves for the inevitable, significantly higher prices to follow our beloved club.

  35. Credit where it’s due for a comprehensive and honest answer to that question.

    Can’t fault them over the stadium at the moment – we can’t gamble the club’s future on this and they inherited an absolute mess to try and tidy up and make sense of.

    Heart goes out to the community in L4 who are still in limbo over what is happening. Just hope that we’re moving towards some resolution which will be acceptable to the club and the community.

    • To be fair, regenerating the community should be the council’s responsibility. They shouldnt be waiting for the club to take the lead on that.

  36. The example set by the Bundesliga has shown how to run a top quality league with affordable ticket prices.

    Their prices are generally cheaper and encourage the local community to play a part in the club.

    With Anfield’s lack of atmosphere for league games becoming a regular concern (http://liverpoolfc.wellredmag.co.uk/Liverpool-FC-Latest-from-Well-Red/anfield-were-not-singing-any-more.html), any increase in ticket prices is likely to make the problem worse.

    Liverpool as a city doesn’t have the corporate environment that London has so it’s only right that John Henry points this out. Also, Man Utd have an easier job of selling corporate boxes because they have won TWELVE Premier League titles.

    LFC have won none. In the Premier League era, we don’t even compete to the last month of the season. And unless Rodgers can work miracles like Rafa, we may soon be forgotten as a Champions League team.

    LFC waste money because we’ve had it to waste. The scrapped stadium plans fees alone is sickening.

    Everton have done brilliantly in the transfer market and make every penny count.

    If FSG only teach us that one lesson before they sell us on, it will have been a valuable learning experience.

    I’m glad John Henry is finally getting the club to act more responsible financially. But ticket prices shouldn’t increase.

    The German National team are proof of what a proper system can do not only for local communities and their clubs, but on the world stage.

  37. Having read the response from John Henry I understand that the only action which is guaranteed to happen is that we are in for significant rises in ticket prices whether we build a new stadium, refurb Anfield, or do neither.

    This has been demonstrated by the club’s recent action in turfing out 55 long-standing season ticket holders in order to re-sell those seats at premium prices, but this is only the beginning.

    The next stage will be to extend the “premium seating” area to a much wider section of the Main Stand, then the central section of The Centenary Stand, finishing up with the central section of The Kop.

    Removal of the 55 STHs did not seem to attract much sympathy, even though these are the very people who have helped to build LFC into what it is today through their undying support over many years, including when LFC was in the old 2nd Division, however the extended areas will affect far more fans, perhaps even yourself eventually.

    Much importance is placed on a season ticket waiting list of 20k when seat demand at Anfield is discussed, but the reality is very different. I understand that when the club released a number of new season tickets last season they made big inroads into the list before actually selling the tickets. It turns out that of the 20k on the list, the number of fans prepared to cough up the cost of approx £700 diminishes to around 1 in 4 of those contacted by the club with an offer of a ST.

    Now imagine what would happen to demand if that cost were to increase to > £1000 which is the clubs aim.

    In my opinion, the way forward is not to increase match-day seat revenue and if anyone doubts this theory simply check out the admission prices at Bayern and Dortmund, both of whom have far greater gross incomes per annum than LFC.

    Bayern have huge sponsorship deals which make LFC (and Manu and Arsenal) look very amateurish, and Dortmund have home crowds double that at Anfield with admission prices less than a quarter of ours.

    Fact.

  38. Like a lot of you have already said times are tough & I have gone to sharing my season ticket last two years , & have been joined by several others I know now. I really agonized about doing it at all this year as like many of you its such a struggle.

    I have thought for a long time that we wouldn’t move & the price banding for cup games would have been expanded to Prem games if we hadn’t been so poor this year , but that will happen next.

    I think my time like many others of being able to afford to justify going the match is coming to an end & I like many other local fans will be priced out by the clubs desire to maximize revenue through tourist fans , yes like paying for a final you will pay over the odds if its the exception rather than the rule but will those fans stay around without success.
    The club push auto cup as they know that if 30000 etc sign up they can charge £30 to see someone in the Europa cup or league cup , if they don’t get people signed up they may have to charge less depending on demand.
    I will never sign up.

  39. A limited time pimping out of Anfields naming rights to help fund an expansion of Anfield (if Newcastle can just up and change the name of St. James park, why not do it for the sake of expanding) surely 5 years @ £10m (or more) would be a good start, it seems like one decent way to keep ticket prices down, help compensate local homeowners, and pay towards diverting roads etc. would be to concede the Anfield name …not many clubs have a name as valuable, if it can be done elsewhere, why not do it here but on more agreeable terms

    • I think the bullshit was that building a stadium could ever be a condition of sale. How can I sell you my house but insist you rebuild the garden once you own it?

  40. So, in short, despite one of the conditions in buying the club being that they would deliver a new stadium, they never had enough money in the first place without a naming rights partner which they can’t attract. They can’t get get permission to redevelop Anfield so will probably be putting prices up (while already turfing lifelong season ticket holders out of their seats to make room for more corporates), and, er, anyway, a new stadium was never vital to our ability to compete with other clubs with greater revenue, and here’s a nice simple chart to prove it!
    And you’re all swallowing this nice dose of spoon-fed bullshit, are you?
    Rome is burning.

  41. Out of interest, what were the other Q&A’s that you did?

    Cheers

    Tim

  42. You’ve got them talking here. Great response.
    I was also under the assumption that part of the original deal was a new stadium. A new stadium would be nice but after reading the response and understanding that it would mean more corporate seats, therefore less atmosphere. I have been listening to the WRAPs and the topic of the atmosphere at Anfield has been mentioned quite a few times. I hope that this could change under Rodgers. I think that a lot of stadiums are losing the atmosphere because of corporate seating but that is where football is going. I work in Manchester at the moment and all the United fans who cannot get tickets for matches are always complaining about the atmosphere.
    What Liverpool need to do is to start winning football matches, getting back into the top four, playing good football and all will be forgiven.
    Keep up the great work on the WRAP. Helps on the drive to Manc land every Tuesday morning.

  43. Great reply from Mr Henry, he is basically ruling out a new stadium in favour of the redevelopment of Anfield. I find it difficult to explain to people who want to come to a game that the club only have restricted view tickets remaining!!!

    My understanding is that the people offered season tickets this year had been on the waiting list for 16 years and that for the big games we turn away approximately 20,000 ticket requests from around the world, however you look at this it says Anfield as it is isn’t big enough.

    I would therefore plead with Liverpool Council and local residents of Anfield to overcome their objections and help the club move forward. We have started this process with the new appointments in both boadroom and management. Hopefully Brendan is given a little cash to stamp his mark on the team and that leads to success on the pitch. It’s a business, a successful product (on the field) leads to more demand (increased ticket, merchandise sales) leads to investment (players, stadium) leads to more success.

    Good luck Brendan, FSG & LFC I’ll be spending my £48 per game again this year.

    By the way does anyone know how many fans LFC have around the world? How much could we raise if each fan gave £10 to an investment pot, surely we the fans could help towards a naming rights deal?

  44. Great work from you guys……. But the day we share with the Bitters is the day I walk away from Football for good after 40 years of supporting the Reds.

    Our home is as important as the Red we play in, YNWA, Shanks, Paisley, our history it’s all what makes us who we are!!!

    Spurs are looking for a new Stadium… It would make financial sense for them to share with Arsenal…. For Citeh to share with the a Scum…. Brum with Villa… Even Gers and the state they are in could sell Ibrox and move in with Celtic!!!!

    None of these supporters would entertain the idea….. Why should we? Purple seats? Shared Museum….. Shankly Gates next to Dixie Dean Gates?

    We are a huge Global ‘Brand’ and part of that brand is Anfield!!!

    If we can’t have a new home then a well planned and thought out development of our spiritual home would be a close second.

    Keep up the good work boys… YNWA

  45. Can anyone please explain to me how the Stadium of light can have 49000 seats & still cost less than 30million to build. Construction costs could not have jumped that much. Why does a new stadium have to cost the 300 odd million that they are talking about. Any Engineers out there that can explain ??????????????????????

    • I’m with you on this one, I simply fail to see why we would have to spend 300 + mil on a stadium. There has to be far cheaper ways to build a new stadium. We are in the middle of a world recession where construction costs have fallen dramatically. The one big fear here in what I have heard from Mr Henry is this idea of a shared stadium. I get the feeling that this will be imposed on the fans. As far as I’m concerned I rather share Old Trafford than share a stadium with the bluenoses.

  46. How do you John W Henry and your associates expect to make a healthy return on your LFC long term investment ? sit tight do nothing and hope some one makes you an offer you can’t refuse!! Everton have more chance of winning the Premiership than Liverpool FC because a multi billionaire could buy them tomorrow.

  47. The stadium expansion sounds fantastic, and I for one cannot wait to see it completed. However, I suspect for certain fans it’s not sufficiently large… Because it’s more of an ego thing ‘Who’s got the biggest swinging d*ck?’… Not us, it’s a mere 53,000 capacity.

    drawings look fantastic.. The Main stand will look colossal, seems reminiscent of Old Trafford or the Camp Nou… And who knows, a few years down the line there could be even further expansion… It would essentially be our Empire State Building.. The symbolism of our ensuing dominance. ;-)

    Top job FSG and everyone involved.

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