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Anfield expansion ramps up as Carillion's deadline looms

Contractor given the tightest of timeframes for Main Stand build as Liverpool targets a stadium to match its Premier League rivals.

Project: Anfield Main Stand expansion
Client: Liverpool FC
Contract value: £75m
Region: North-west
Main contractor: Carillion
Start date: December 2014
Completion date: August 2016

After a Europa League final defeat last week, Liverpool FC finds itself planning a squad overhaul as it looks to challenge for trophies next season.

Away from the pitch, however, the club is already in a race against time to complete perhaps its most important addition: 8,500 new seats for its Main Stand.

Source: Liverpool FC

In the hours after Liverpool’s final home game of the season on 11 May, a team of workers quickly set about stripping out the existing famous stand, with no time to spare.

As Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp made his way up the tunnel and onto the pitch to exit the stadium after a home draw with Chelsea, cameras captured the German looking momentarily stunned by the group of high-vis-clad workers milling around the field, then grinning as they shouted “hello”.

Now the hard work begins for both the club’s manager and those workers, off the pitch at least.

When Carillion started work at Anfield in December 2014, it was tasked with expanding the capacity of the famous ground to 54,000 seats.

Busy summer ahead

The timeline was intense, with the club expecting completion in time for the 2016/17 season, meaning the work will continue round the clock throughout the summer in a bid to be matchday-ready come August.

The club has asked the Premier League to play its first league fixture away from Anfield in August, meaning the stand must be ready for the weekend of Saturday 20 August. 

Construction News was invited to see Carillion’s progress on the expansion of the Main Stand on a sunny day in early May.

At the time of visiting, there were around 550 workers on site.

Carillion project director Chris Ruta, who has been showing the Main Stand extension to invited media, explains they are 74 weeks into the 88-week construction programme when Liverpool FC’s stadium manager loudly proclaims that the programme is running on time, on budget, and will be complete in time for next season.

“Isn’t that right, Chris?” he inquires, as the project director nods in agreement.

Carillion_Liverpool FC Anfield redevelopment 1

Carillion_Liverpool FC Anfield redevelopment 1

The extension raises the Main Stand height to more than 40 m

But the timeframe for this job, which Mr Ruta describes as “the most challenging I have worked on” is just one of the difficulties Carillion has had to overcome.

Chief among its obstacles has been operating a live construction site at a ground that hosts 45,000 people on matchdays with television cameras and the eyes of the world on it.

As well as ensuring local residents, not to mention the bus-loads of tourists, can continue to commute in and around the stadium on weekdays, Carillion’s construction timetable hasn’t been helped by Liverpool’s run to the finals of the Europa League and Capital One Cup either.

In the ‘nine-metre’ zone

In total, 10 cup games have been played at Anfield in the 2015/16 season, most of them midweek. These extra fixtures have put a squeeze on the companies working on site who have had to bow to the demands of what is described to me as “the dreaded 9 m zone”.

This zone is an area behind the existing Main Stand, separating it from the new stand being built in its place.

Mr Ruta grimaces slightly when discussing the impact this has had on the intense construction schedule. The zone needs to be clear to “allow for safe evacuation based on crowd modelling that’s been done”, he says, adding that this applies for 24 hours before domestic games, but for 48 hours before European nights at Anfield.

“The existing main stand roof structure is going to be demolished”

Chris Ruta, Carillion

With the season now over and the stress of matchdays gone, you might think the on-field distractions were at an end. But you’d be wrong.

Demolition of the remainder of the old Main Stand is now taking place pitchside, the contractors bringing in their plant onto the pitch from a corner by the Kop stand.

“The existing Main Stand roof structure is going to be demolished,” Mr Ruta says. “Work started two days after the final game against Chelsea once all the plant was decommissioned and services disconnected.”

Demolition by contractor Bagnall will last for around five weeks.

Carillion Liverpool FC Anfield redevelopment 7

Carillion Liverpool FC Anfield redevelopment 7

Inside the new Main Stand

The extension raises the Main Stand height to more than 40 m, almost twice the height of the existing stand. The first red seats are being added to the new rows and an intense programme of fit-out is due to begin on facilities on each level of the stand. From the fifth level we are afforded a bird’s eye view over the home of Merseyside rivals Everton FC across Stanley Park.

Adana has poured more than 10,000 cu m of concrete in foundations, 6,000 sq m of concrete in ground floor slabs, and 27,000 sq m of concrete on metal decking over seven floors.

Truss exercise

But it was in September 2015 when the most technically challenging aspect of Anfield’s expansion was completed: the erection of a 650-tonne, 20 m-high roof truss over the new Main Stand.

Initially the work was delayed due to high winds, but was finally completed when the new truss was lifted by two 77 m-high cranes, a Gottwald AK680 and AK912, onto two 28 m-high towers at either side of the Main Stand.

The truss was moved over the incomplete steel frame for the new Main Stand and left hovering for two hours while weights were added to the cranes, allowing them to lower it safely into position.

In the end the job went “perfectly, but only due to months of planning from the team”, Mr Ruta says.

Around 4,800 tonnes of steel are being supplied by steelwork contractor Severfield to expand the stand, which will grow to be the largest all-seater in the UK once complete.

“Work started two days after the final game against Chelsea once all the plant was decommissioned and services disconnected”

Chris Ruta, Carillion

Mr Ruta lights up talking about the truss lift being carried out safely and efficiently, and when the wind howls around you walking through the upper tiers, it’s clear to see why.

The project has had one notable health and safety incident, when a worker had his legs crushed in April 2015.

Mr Ruta explains that incident led to the team reviewing safety measures and coming up with new designs to prevent steel beams from falling while they await installation.

Truss timelapse

Watch a timelapse of the 650-tonne roof truss being lifted into place

They have devised a bracket, which the steel beam sits into on top of the girder, meaning it can’t move while work is under way and preventing similar incidents in future.

So from that incident, safety improvements have been made, which could be vital with so many parts of the supply chain involved in construction of stadiums worldwide.

Imtech, Carillion’s M&E engineer, is using some of its experience on the Anfield build to inform its work with Balfour Beatty on the revamped Olympic Stadium, which will be home to West Ham United from next season.

Team game

But the supply chain is also taking lessons from other stadiums and applying it to the Anfield expansion. For example Christal Management (bought by EC Harris, which was in turn bought by Arcadis) has worked on Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and architects KSS were designers of Brighton’s AmEx Community Stadium.

But Carillion isn’t a name you would traditionally associate with stadium construction, so I ask Mr Ruta why it managed to land this notable job.

He points to the fact that Alfred McAlpine, bought by Carillion in 2007, was the contractor that rebuilt the Kop when it stopped being an all-standing area in 1994.

Tarmac, from which Carillion was spun off in 1999, was also responsible for building the upper tier of the Anfield Road stand which opened in 1998.

“You could say Anfield’s in our DNA,” Mr Ruta adds.

Carillion Liverpool FC Anfield redevelopment 3

Carillion Liverpool FC Anfield redevelopment 3

Source: Tom Fitzpatrick

The work will add 8,500 new seats

Mowlem, bought by Carillion 11 years ago, also had stadium experience, such as the expansion of Twickenham in 2005. 

Another factor in winning the bid, Mr Ruta explains, was that Carillion proposed to only take out two rows of 537 seats while the season was ongoing.

With the impact of revenue loss lessened, Liverpool were only too happy to listen. Other bids for the job included plans to take out as many as nine rows of seats in competing bids.

The impact of matchday revenue is a key concern for clubs competing for the best players and trophies.

The capacity of Anfield falls far below that of many of its rivals. Its North-west adversary Manchester United has a capacity of more than 75,000 at Old Trafford, while Arsenal’s 60,000-seater Emirates stadium still dwarfs Anfield’s current 45,000.

“You could say Anfield’s in our DNA”

Chris Ruta, Carillion

According to Deloitte’s Football Money League report for 2016, Arsenal boasts matchday income in excess of £100m (€132m), while Liverpool generates £57m (€75m).

With that in mind, the club is not only adding seats, but is trying to bring the club’s hospitality and corporate facilities up to the standards of its peers.

The tour of the Main Stand extension shows how commercial revenue is at the heart of much of the work. Concourses that currently lay bare will soon be bustling kitchens, VIP suites and bars come next season, but for now there is an intense fit-out programme to complete.

The tour briefly gets a glimpse of the Anfield turf from the top tier of the new Main Stand, with corporate hospitality on the floors below.

The history of Anfield is also taken into account. The famous Shankly gates and Hillsborough Memorial Plaque have both had to be placed in storage, ready to be moved, with the tribute to the 96 football fans killed in the 1989 tragedy set to reside at the foot of the new Main Stand where fans will be able to pay respects once work is complete.

The club has outline planning permission to expand the Anfield Road stand with 4,800 additional seats, but has yet to green light the plans as it oversees the final stages of the current expansion.

Mr Ruta says Carillion will be keen to work on the next extension phase. For now though, his focus is on ensuring the stadium expansion is delivered on time, with the clock ticking as the club prepares to unveil the new Main Stand in August.

Main stand supply chain

Main contractor: Carillion
Project manager: Arcadis
QS/ CDM co-ordinator: Aecom
Transport/modelling: Mott MacDonald
Temporary works supplier: RMD Kwikform
Architect: KSS
Structural engineer: Jacobs
Steelwork contractor: Severfield
Building services: Imtech
Supply chain: FK Group / Kone / Adana Construction
Compliance: Arup / AFL Architects

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