Anfield is a home ground in more than it is where Liverpool play the majority of their games every season. For many people it has become a second home, a place to escape the ins and outs of everyday life and for a small minority: just a night out. When news of Fenway Sports Group’s intentions to redevelop the stadium and increase its capacity was released it was met with resounding approval.
Last week Friday, sorry for the delay, the 650 tonne truss roof was impeccably slowly laid on the to of the existing structure.
I nicked this quote from thisisanfield.com, who nicked it from the club’s official website who interviewed Mike Gordon on the project: “Work is progressing well and despite the fact that this is a complex project, we are on track in terms of budget and schedule,” he said. “We still expect that the new Main Stand will be open to fans and hospitality guests at the start of the 2016-17 season, which will be an impressive accomplishment by everyone in Liverpool who has worked on the project. John, Tom and I are grateful for their efforts.”
However a recent announcement has been greeted with disgust and many a reference to the ‘plastics’ of Manchester City and Chelsea. The announcement being that the naming rights of the new main stand will be sold to the highest bidder as a way to generate money. This is shocking. I personally would hate to see Dunkin’ Donuts scrawled across the stadium in 30 years time let alone listed as a sponsor on Liverpool Football Club’s Wikipedia page.
This sort of mentality and tactic is not the ‘Liverpool Way’ and while I am sure Bill Shankly loved a good doughnut I am also certain he would agree with me, loosely based on what I know about the guy. The club that the Scotsman helped build into such a formidable and famous European powerhouse should not stoop so low as to selling naming rights to whoever has more money. This is not the Etihad. This is Anfield.
The very fact that Liverpool has such a distinguished stand in the Kop is reason enough. Very few modern stadiums can claim as distinguished a history as Liverpool and this comes right down to the very stands in the stadium. Few can boast to have this, rather naming stands after roads adjacent to them or ‘Main Stand’ for the largest in the stadium.
I would much rather a ‘Main Stand” exist in Anfield than a ‘Subway Stand.’ Ridiculous and completely hypothetical but you get my point. There is no excitement in being on a stand which has been paid for by selling out.
I can guarantee you that when the re-branding of the main stand takes place and the ‘Dunkin Donuts Stand’ is unveiled fans will continue to call it The Main Stand. When Newcastle had St. James Park changed to the Sports Direct Arena fans were in such a fume that after the 2011/2012 season it was changed back. Ultimately, the club will rake in millions from a company whose logo will be on a stand that will always be the Main Stand.
Liverpool stands to profit £500 million from selling the naming rights and this could also result in lowering the cost of tickets in general areas whereas premium areas are likely to become more costly.
Liverpool’s Chief Executive, Ian Ayre,“We built the economic model on the basis of having a range of prices, as we do today,” he added.
“We have said all along we absolutely recognize there needs to be some affordable pricing and tickets in the stadium and that is the case today, but maybe there can be more of that.”
I may be overreacting and acknowledge that but I find it below the level that Liverpool claim to be on to be prostituting the global brand the club possesses in order to expand the capacity of the stadium. In my logic if that is what it takes to expand then surely it can wait until funds can be generated in such a way that it doesn’t make me feel hot under my collar and nervous of what others might think.
There is a reason that I support Liverpool and it is because things are done in a different manner and intent than it other clubs. Maybe at Manchester City and Chelsea it is alright – buy the Premier League – but I have learnt differently in my years as a Liverpool supporter. This is Anfield and we do things the Liverpool Way.
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