This Is Anfield

So the infamous board tells the players heading out onto the hallowed turf in L4. And we get to experience our own little bit of Liverpool magic as they head out to Cape Town later this month to play Ajax at the stadium. But – according to this piece in the Guardian from the well-respected David Conn, at least – Liverpool FC is letting down the local community in the search of bigger profits.

In the blighted streets around Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, residents are packing up and leaving their family homes, so the football club can have them demolished and expand their Main Stand. In the six months since the club scrapped their decade-long plan to build a new stadium on Stanley Park, and reverted to expanding Anfield instead, Liverpool city council has been seeking to buy these neighbours’ homes, backed by the legal threat of compulsory purchase.

People’s farewells are bitter, filled with anger and heartbreak at the area’s dreadful decline and at the club for deepening the blight by buying up houses since the mid-1990s then leaving them empty. A few residents are refusing to move, holding out against the council, which begins negotiations with low offers. These homeowners believe they should be paid enough not only to buy a new house but to compensate for the years of dereliction, stagnation and decline, and crime, fires, vandalism, even murders which have despoiled the area. Their resentment is compounded by the fact that they are being forced to move so that Liverpool, and their relatively new US owner, Fenway Sports Group, can make more money.

It’s a complex story of urban decay and degeneration over a number of years, none of which can be directly attributed to Liverpool FC, but there is a wealth of good anecdotal evidence suggesting that the onset of the problems in the Anfield area coincided with the club buying up – and then leaving vacant – housing in the local area.
Between the club, the local council’s compulsory purchase orders and the ruination of the area, residents believe that they are not moving out, they are being driven out.

It’s worth a read.

UPDATE: The Telegraph’s Tom Chivers adds:

I hope this story, if true, gets a lot of attention. Football fans, me included, focus on stupid non-stories, the various handbags-at-dawn things: the ludicrous moral outrage about Luis Suarez biting someone, or players diving, as though those are anywhere near as bad as a potential leg-breaking tackle. But we too often forget or ignore the real stuff, the venality in the game, the immorality of the people who run it.

Yes. What he said.

3 thoughts on “This Is Anfield

  1. Compare and contrast witth the community development Machesrer City have embarked upon on the east side of Manchester. The whole area is being regenerated

  2. Henry Crun > And how’s the area around Maine Road looking now they’ve left? Serious question.

  3. 6k, don’t honestly know. I haven’t been round to Maine Rd since City vacated and moved back to Ardwick. I just can’t bring myself to go back now the stadium is no longer there. The ground was sold to Manchester City council for redevelopment.

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