Football: Liverpool could play summer Europa League game at Wigan or Bolton

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp aplauds the fans at the end of the game on March 20, 2016.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp aplauds the fans at the end of the game on March 20, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

London (The Guardian) - Liverpool will ask to play a European home game at Wigan Athletic or Bolton Wanderers next season should Juergen Klopp's team return to the Europa League in the third qualifying round.

The redevelopment of Anfield's main stand enters its most time-sensitive phase this summer, when concrete is relaid in the existing stand and that section is connected to the new build under construction behind.

As a consequence the stadium's capacity will be limited when the Europa League third qualifying round takes place on Jul 28 and Aug 4 - and the club would look to a north-west neighbour as an alternative venue.

A simple geographical solution, a short walk across Stanley Park to Merseyside rivals Everton, has been discounted by Liverpool officials but the DW Stadium in Wigan and Bolton's Macron Stadium are under consideration. Ewood Park, the home of Blackburn Rovers, is also a possibility.

Liverpool's participation in the Europa League in July is dependent on many permutations - such as the FA Cup winners finishing in the top five of the Premier League, the Capital One Cup winners, Manchester City, staying in the top five and not least the Anfield club improving their position of ninth to claim a qualifying place through the league. But the club have drawn up contingency plans to cover the possibility.

Liverpool would be in the third qualifying round had they won February's Capital One Cup final at Wembley and seventh place in the Premier League will deliver the same should the FA Cup and Capital One Cup winners both finish in the top five.

Klopp's team can still qualify for the Champions League by winning this season's Europa League but Anfield could host a play-off (which would occur only if the Champions League winners do not qualify for next season's competition through their domestic league) scheduled for Aug 16-17 and 23-24.

Anfield's new £114 million (S$220 million) main stand is scheduled to open at the start of next season, with the opening round of Premier League matches on Aug 13.

However, interior work, including the changing rooms, match officials' facilities and media working areas, are unlikely to be completed until Christmas. Players will be required to change in marquees outside the main stand until the redevelopment work is finished.

Liverpool have asked the Premier League to schedule their first two matches of next season away from Anfield, thereby ensuring more home games in the second half of the campaign when the interior fit-out has been completed.

The Premier League is considering the club's request. Anfield's capacity will rise to 53,500 when the new main stand opens.