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Why Liverpool are playing at Preston’s Deepdale Stadium for pre-season friendly



Since a ball was first kicked under association rules on the site in 1878, Deepdale has witnessed some historic moments.

The first-ever weekend of top-flight football kicked off on that ground which was home to the inaugural champions, Preston North End, who went through the entire campaign without a single defeat. Before the FA’s draconian ban on women’s football, the pioneering side Dick, Kerr Ladies also called Deepdale home.

These gold-tinted memories have invariably involved a representative from the proud city in which the stadium has been located for almost 150 years, Preston.

However, such is the financial might of the Premier League, Liverpool have rented out the iconic venue like a common park pitch for a pre-season friendly against Bundesliga opponents SV Darmstadt 98 on Monday.

Here’s why the Reds aren’t hosting Darmstadt at Anfield.

Liverpool‘s final friendly of pre-season will take place on Monday 7 August, just six days before Jurgen Klopp leads his side to Stamford Bridge for a Premier League opener against Chelsea.

The hospitality sections at Deepdale open two hours before the scheduled kick off at 7pm. General admission will be able to flow through the turnstiles from 5.30pm onwards.

Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp has overseen four pre-season matches for Liverpool, collecting two wins, one draw and a solitary loss / Apinya Rittipo/GettyImages

As Liverpool gear up for their opening Premier League game, the Reds returned to England after a pre-season tour that took in trips to Germany and Singapore.

Ever the forward-thinkers, Liverpool were aware that the expansion of the Anfield Road Stand may not be completed by the time they landed back in Merseyside and booked Deepdale in June – sparking some grumblings of discontent among Preston’s fanbase.

North End had to ask the Football League for an away fixture on the opening weekend of the new Championship season as it clashed with the friendly. Preston duly travelled to Bristol City’s Ashton Gate on Saturday 5 August (fighting back to earn a point) but will host fourth-tier Salford City in the Carabao Cup less than 24 hours after Liverpool’s bout against Darmstadt.

Klopp’s side also requested an away fixture to start the new campaign. In July, the club publicly stated that the new stand would be wrapped up ahead of the first Premier League home game against Bournemouth on Saturday 19 August. However, Liverpool’s contractors are running behind schedule.

Liverpool FC v Nottingham Forest - Premier League

Liverpool had an average home attendance in excess of 53,000 last season / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Liverpool have been planning the revamped Anfield Road Stand since 2021. The upgrades are set to increase the stadium’s total capacity to 61,000 – which would make it the second-largest ground currently in use in the Premier League.

However, the club revealed at the end of July that the upper tier would not be completed in time for Bournemouth’s trip to Merseyside. This section of the stadium will remain closed for at least the opening month of the season, reducing Anfield’s capacity for the start of 2023/24.

Andy Hughes, Liverpool’s managing director, explained: “We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding while we work through the next few weeks with Buckingham [the contractors] to complete this programme and we can’t wait to have this great new Anfield Road Stand fully open for supporters.” But he could not offer an exact end date.

Any major work left to do on the stand will not be possible until the first international break of the campaign, which falls between 4-12 September 2023. Liverpool’s first home Premier League game after the autumn hiatus is on 24 September against West Ham United.

There is a fear that Liverpool may not be in front of a packed-out crowd until October’s international window.


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