By Lucas Pereira, FootballPredictions.NET, 12:22 17/08/2020
Regularly included on lists of European football’s best stadiums, Anfield is the historic home of Liverpool FC. It may not be England’s biggest stadium, but Anfield could certainly argue a case for being its most passionate and most evocative stadium.
Unlike several teams who also compete in the Premier League, Liverpool FC does own its home stadium, Anfield. The historic stadium has actually been owned by Liverpool FC since the club’s beginnings in the late 19th century.
The perks of playing at home are a well-versed trope and a staple of the commentators’ phrasebook. For teams chasing a 90th-minute winner, the roar of the crowd can be the difference – so we’re led to believe – between the elation of victory or the dejection of points dropped.
Similarly, being able to call a stadium home can have a wealth of other benefits to modern football clubs. The financial arrangements that shape the course of modern European football are increasingly complex.
With players moving in multi-million deals, global sponsorship deals, and increasingly competitive television right auctions, there are numerous ways for clubs to make – or lose – money.
Owning their home stadium can be an effective source of guaranteed income. Liverpool FC, unlike several teams in the Premier League, are the owners of their stadium.
Although the club is owned by John W. Henry of the Fenway Sports Group – who also owns the Boston Red Sox Baseball team in the USA - the freeholder of Anfield stadium remains Liverpool Football Club.
The Merseyside Derby – which pitches Liverpool FC against their neighbours, Everton – is one of the fiercest rivalries in European football. Playing at home, with the vociferous support of the home supporters roaring them on, can often be the difference in driving the teams on to victory in this fiercely fought match.
It may come as a surprise to learn, then, that Anfield used to be the home of Everton!
In fact, the very first game ever played at Anfield was a 5-0 drubbing dished out by the home team, as Everton beat Earlestown 5-0 in September 1884. From then until 1891, it was the home of the Toffees.
They would call it home until 1892 when, following a split, Everton would make the short journey to their new home, Goodison Park, allowing the newly formed Liverpool FC to make their home at Anfield.
Their first game there was against Rotherham Town. 200 spectators turned out to watch the friendly, as Liverpool ran out 7-1 winners. In the decades since, the stadium has evolved, with the game evolved beyond all recognition, but it's not hard to imagine the joy of the fans remaining a constant through the decades.
Councils and Cooperation
Liverpool FC are among a select number of teams in English football which is lucky enough to own the stadium that it calls home. A number of their competitors in the premier league are less fortunate.
Financial difficulties in the past may have led owners to sell stadium land to balance the book, leading to lease arrangements needing to be worked out with local councils. Other stadiums still are owned by development companies, leading to stadium sharing arrangements
A notable example of this is Huddersfield Town, who enjoyed a brief visit to the Premier League for the 2018-19 season. Their home ground – the Kirklees Stadium – is shared by both the football team and the Huddersfield Giants Rugby League Team.
These arrangements may not always boil down to simple finances, however. English football’s richest team, Manchester City, do not own the Etihad Stadium. The freehold for the stadium remains the property of Manchester City Council, who lease it to the club.