LIVERPOOL FC apologised to the people of Anfield for leaving them living in limbo for more than a decade while it made up its mind whether to stay in its current home.
At a press conference called to announce £150m plans to revamp its stadium – bringing to an end years of speculation about building a new ground in Stanley Park – club managing director Ian Ayre said “the best thing we can do is apologise and find the right solution”.
The plans to expand the Main Stand and the Anfield Road are likely to see a number of houses demolished to make way for the redevelopment of the stadium to a capacity probably in the region of 60,000.
Over the years, the Reds have bought properties in Lothair Road – immediately behind Anfield – but they were left to fall into dereliction.
The street became the target of vandals and arsonists, with 14 separate fires in the properties over six years, causing misery to the few remaining residents.
Now, with the news that the club will stay at Anfield, the years of uncertainty suffered by the community should be brought to an end.
Mr Ayre said: “I am happy to apologise on behalf of the club for anything people feel aggrieved about.
“I think the message I got from residents when I first came to the club five years ago, and more recently when I became managing director, was that they wanted a solution and for the area to be improved.
“I think the first thing we can do is apologise and find the right solution.”
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said he believed Mr Ayre’s sentiments were “spot on”, adding that the change in ownership at the club had been crucial in making progress.
He said: “[The difference between] dealing with the administration of the club now and dealing with the previous owners is like chalk and cheese. There is an element of trust and collaboration now.”