It has long been in Fenway Sports Group plans to open up Anfield’s capabilities beyond Liverpool game days.
And watching a crowded Tottenham Hotspur stadium generate millions for Spurs on Saturday as he hosted Anthony Joshua’s world title fight with Oleksandr Usyk, it is likely that the desire to host similar events in an Anfield in expansion will remain high in Liverpool’s hierarchy.
Spurs’ state-of-the-art stadium, built at a cost of £ 1billion, has been built in such a way that it is a venue that can be used throughout the year. A multi-year contract to host regular season NFL games and a number of music concerts, including Guns N ‘Roses and Lady Gaga, were all expected to make money in the last 18 months or so before the pandemic hit put an end to these hopes.
But Joshua’s fight on Saturday, which ended in a loss to Ukraine’s Usyk, was the first major sporting event to take place at Spurs’ home, far from the return of Premier League action. It also represented welcome funds which show why the club were so eager to invest in the first place.
Spurs expected to take around £ 10million from the staging of Joshua’s fight last year, as well as the two music concerts, with Joshua’s fight expected to deliver more than £ 3million to the club, which may have taken room rental fees as well as a reduction in catering and hospitality.
This is the kind of additional income stream FSG would like to bring to Anfield.
With the redevelopment of Anfield Road, now approved by Liverpool, to £ 60million, the Reds initially wanted the ability to host an unlimited number of events in the stadium away from football, team sports such as the NFL games at music concerts. They had been limited to six per year with a temporary permit.
But this permit is now extended for five years, even if the FSG will have to be content with being able to host the same number of events as before.
While NFL and Gaelic football games have been hinted at for a potential flagship event at Anfield, an event has been added to the schedule with Elton John to perform at the Liverpool home on Friday June 17, 2022 as part of his Farewell Yellow tour. Brick Road, which saw dates from 2021 postponed to 2023 after the Tiny Dancer frontman suffered a fall over the summer.
Hosting concerts is something that is very present in the FSG’s wheelhouse, with American owners just laying the final beam for a 5,000-seat musical theater adjacent to Boston’s Fenway Park Stadium, while Fenway Park him. – even hosted artists such as Guns N ‘Roses, Green Day, Maroon 5, and the Jonas Brothers are all set for shows at the Boston Red Sox home this year and next.
And there are other avenues that could be explored to generate income for the club outside of match days, with Liverpool fan and UFC star Paddy Pimblett keen to take center stage himself.
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Speaking to BT Sport, Scouser Pimblett, 26, who roared onto the UFC stage with a first round victory over Luigi Vendramini, believes he could fill the stadium, which the Reds FSG owners would be no doubt delighted to see.
“We’re going to have a cage in the middle of this pitch, one June, July at the end of the season we’re going to have Anfield packed,” said Pimblett, who goes by the nickname ‘Paddy the Baddy’.
“Every seat is filled, all the grass with seats and the cage in the middle, and I’m going to lift a world title in the middle of there.
“I know for a fact that I will, I’ve seen it in my future.”
And Pimblett was inspired by the buzz he felt watching Liverpool against Atletico Madrid in March 2020, the last game played to a full house before the pandemic saw stadiums closed and competition suspended.
And while eager to achieve his vision, Pimblett is unsure of the timescale.
“It can be in a year or in 10 years.
“I’m still a young boy, I still have at least 10 years of fighting in me, and in those 10 years we will fill this stadium with fight fans. We will, it happens, it happens. I know it will happen.
“As I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, it’s my destiny. I’ve seen it in my future. I’ll hold a world title, in the middle of a UFC cage, in this arena.
“Well – the arena – this fucking stadium, Anfield, the Mecca of Liverpool fans.”
With FSG keen to explore the potential of hosting more non-football events, and with Pimblett’s growing popularity and appeal in the UFC, there may well be a chance that this will come true.