LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - Liverpool plan to revamp their Anfield stadium and increase capacity to just short of 60,000 fans in an effort to generate the matchday revenues of their Premier League rivals, they announced on Wednesday.
The club, top of the Premier League and closing in on a first English title since 1990, released images of the proposed expansion of the Main Stand that will increase the capacity of their iconic stadium by 8,500 seats to 54,000.
They also revealed outline proposals for their Anfield Road end that they hope to boost by 4,800 seats.
They hope to complete the first phase of the development, that is subject to planning permission, in time for the 2016-2017 season, while there is no timescale on the second stage of the project.
Liverpool currently lag far behind two of their main rivals in terms of matchday revenue with Manchester United able to fill their 75,000 capacity Old Trafford stadium while Arsenal's Emirates Stadium holds around 60,000.
Since buying the club in 2010, Liverpool's owners the Fenway Sports Group have approached the issue of the stadium with caution after their predecessors Tom Hicks and George Gillett famously came unstuck by rushing through plans for a new ground.
Having made a promise to plant a spade in the ground within 60 days, their lavish designs for a new stadium were never realised.
"As part of our proposed stadium redevelopment project, we have unveiled the detail of our ambitious plans for an expanded Main Stand and Anfield Road stand and are embarking on a consultation process which will shape and inform our planning application," Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre said on the club website.
"In order to move forward with our expansion plans we need to have certainty that we can navigate the complex planning process and secure the support of the community, local home owners, businesses and other key stakeholders. This consultation exercise is an important part of this process.
"We started this journey just over 18 months ago and a lot of work has already been done, there is still an incredible amount to do, but good progress has been made so far and we are proud to be able to unveil our plans." (Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Justin Palmer)