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Liverpool opts to refurbish Anfield

New stadium not best plan for Henry’s team

When John Henry took over Liverpool FC in 2010, he likened Anfield to Fenway Park for its long history.

PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES/FILE

When John Henry took over Liverpool FC in 2010, he likened Anfield to Fenway Park for its long history.

LONDON — After years of stalled projects and financial uncertainty, Liverpool FC abandoned plans Monday to build a new stadium and decided a redeveloped Anfield can provide the money needed to make the team regularly successful.

Hamstrung by the limitations of its 120-year-old ground, Liverpool has struggled to generate the income needed to produce its first English league title since 1990. The 18-time English champions — owned for exactly two years by Red Sox owner John Henry — have now concluded that a new stadium does not make financial sense. Anfield currently has a capacity of 45,000.

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‘‘If you build a new stadium . . . one of the big challenges is that you don’t get 60,000 new seats in a new stadium, you only get the difference [with the existing capacity],’’ Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said.

‘‘That makes it very difficult to make it viable because the cost of building such a big new stadium doesn’t work economically, particularly in this market.’’

Work on a new $800 million venue in nearby Stanley Park started in 2008 but was put on hold by then-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. because of financial shortfalls.

‘‘I was the person who showed John around Anfield the first time,’’ Ayre recalled of the 2010 visit. ‘‘We were in the tunnel area at Anfield and I remember him saying to me, ‘Why would we want to build a new stadium? This is like Fenway. This is the home of Liverpool Football Club.’ ’’

The redevelopment of two stands is likely to cost $250 million but will boost the capacity to give Liverpool greater financial muscle to attract top players and comply with UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play regulations.

‘‘This option gives us much more chance of generating the revenues we need in a sensible and practical way — and of course of accommodating many more fans who want to come and watch us play,’’ Ayre said. ‘‘If we look at our biggest competitors with a bigger capacity, like Manchester United, Arsenal — their match-day revenues are significantly ahead of ours.’’

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