Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today written to Liverpool Football Club, calling on them not to score an own goal by delaying a decision on their future home.
In a letter to Ian Ayre, Managing Director of the club, Mr Shapps said that the future regeneration of Anfield, one of Liverpool’s most deprived communities, rests on the critical decision which is still to be made by the club: whether to begin work on expanding and redeveloping the existing stadium on Anfield Road or build a brand new one in nearby Stanley Park.
Mr Shapps pointed to his recent visit to the city, where he saw first hand the need for regeneration and investment, and how residents of the area feel stranded after waiting for years to see work begin.
The Minister said that a new or redeveloped stadium would not only allow the club to increase their capacity and improve facilities for players and fans, but would lead to significant regeneration in an area of high deprivation. He said it would lead to new homes, schools and a health centre in an area of the country that badly needs these amenities.
And he said that as well as driving economic growth and contributing to the local economy, a clear decision by the Club could contribute to a resurgence in private sector enterprise and help support more people back into work.
Mr Shapps said that as a significant presence in the community and a prominent local business, Liverpool Football Club had a responsibility to its local community and an important role to play in driving growth and improving the social and physical quality of the area.
Grant Shapps said:
On my visit last month I saw for myself the impact that the decision yet to be taken by Liverpool Football Club will have on the area, and how much the local people in Anfield need certainty and a definite decision on the future of their neighbourhood.
In the interests of the wider community, the club needs to make a swift decision on whether they plan to build a new stadium or stay where they are - either way the residents around Anfield deserve to know. The delay is causing unnecessary uncertain for the community. Local residents are living in limbo.
The council has already asked for extra time for the lease on Stanley Park by six months to allow the club time to explore all options, but the quicker Liverpool FC makes a decision, the more options they have. It’s down to them not to score an own goal by delaying a decision on the club’s future home once more and ensure the council never has to walk alone in their attempts to regenerate the local area.
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