HomeFeatured ArticlesReport: Buckingham Group's Plight Rattles Liverpool and Fulham

Report: Buckingham Group’s Plight Rattles Liverpool and Fulham

Liverpool and Fulham’s Construction Conundrum: The Domino Effect of Buckingham Group’s Decline

Anfield’s Halted Progress

The excitement surrounding Liverpool’s Anfield was palpable. The stadium’s Anfield Road end was on the brink of a £60 million transformation. Yet, just days before a crucial home game, construction at the iconic stadium ground to an abrupt halt. The impending reason? Buckingham Group’s unforeseen financial turmoil.

The firm’s sudden financial challenges meant most construction staff were promptly removed, pushing the redevelopment plan, already lagging, even further behind. Consequently, with Bournemouth’s recent visit and the upcoming match against Aston Villa on September 3, attendance will plummet by 11,000 from the season’s projected figures.

This sudden turn of events not only casts a shadow on Liverpool’s expectations of an operational Anfield Road stand by October’s end but also, as reported in The Athletic today;  highlights broader economic implications for the club.

Photo: IMAGO

Buckingham Group: A Rise and Fall

Formerly viewed as one of the UK’s premier building contractors with an impressive £665 million annual turnover, Buckingham Group’s reputation has taken a sharp nosedive. Their portfolio boasts renowned sporting venues such as new stadiums for Brighton & Hove Albion, MK Dons, and Brentford, not to mention stands at the Oval cricket ground.

However, history reminds us of the inherent risks in football stadium construction. Giants like Laing have suffered colossal losses, like the £26 million hit after the Millennium Stadium debacle in Cardiff. Similarly, Multiplex’s Wembley rebuild spiralled from an estimated £326 million to a staggering £798 million, a year delayed.

Buckingham Group candidly attributed their downfall to losses incurred on significant sports projects. As they noted, “A very strong delivery and commercial performance across most of the business has been outweighed by deep losses and interim cash deficits incurred on the three major stadium and arena contracts.”

The Ripple Effect on Liverpool

The association between Liverpool and Buckingham Group dates back to 2021 when the firm was entrusted with expanding the Anfield Road stand. Foundations were laid, and the initial goal was a rejuvenated Anfield with a 61,000 capacity by the season’s onset. However, come summer, the club adjusted their timelines, pushing the completion to late October.

Billy Hogan, Liverpool’s chief executive, expressed the prevailing uncertainty:

“If Buckingham does enter into administration, then we’ll need to address any delays that may arise from completing the new stand as a result of that.”

Rob Driscoll, director of legal and business at the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), emphasised the importance of having spectators. The significant uncertainty now also revolves around the hundreds of subcontractors involved.

What Lies Ahead for Liverpool?

Liverpool have their backs against the wall. Buckingham has issued a 10-day notice for administrator appointment, hoping to recover some business aspects. If no buyer emerges, they could be in administration by next week.

Ian Marson, a partner at EY-Parthenon, laid out Liverpool’s limited options, highlighting that irrespective of the path chosen, costs will inevitably rise.

Photo: IMAGO

Fulham’s Riverside Stand Debacle

Interestingly, Liverpool aren’y the only Premier League club intertwined with Buckingham Group. Fulham’s Riverside Stand at Craven Cottage, entrusted to Buckingham Group in 2019, still stands incomplete four and a half years later. This ambitious venture, already delayed by two years, has played a role in Buckingham Group’s financial decline.

Fulham’s latest statement reflects their supporters’ palpable frustration:

“Both the club and fans have been anticipating the full opening of the stand, which we had hoped would be by now and we understand supporter frustrations.”

EFL Clubs: The Struggle Continues

While Premier League clubs grapple with their challenges, EFL clubs are not immune. Birmingham City are racing against time with St Andrew’s construction. Similarly, League One Northampton Town faces complications with the East Stand at the Sixfields Stadium.

Kelvin Thomas, Northampton’s chairman, said: “As a club, we have no financial risk or commitments and as you would expect, we have had conversations with other contractors to make sure that we had some comparative figures and back-up plans, so we are well placed to react to whatever happens.”

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