Liverpool Football Club is an English Premier League football club based in Liverpool, Merseyside. Liverpool was founded in 1892 and admitted into the Football League the following year. The club has played at its home ground, Anfield, since its founding, and the team has played in an all-red home strip since 1964. Domestically, Liverpool has won eighteen league titles – the second most in English football – as well as seven FA Cups, a record eight League Cups and fifteen FA Community Shields. Liverpool has also won more European titles than any other English club, with five European Cups, three UEFA Cups and three UEFA Super Cups. The most successful period in Liverpool’s history was the 1970s and 1980s.
The club’s supporters have been involved in two major tragedies: the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, in which charging Liverpool fans caused a wall to collapse, killing 39 Juventus supporters, and the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, where 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives due to a crush against perimeter fencing. Liverpool has long-standing rivalries with both city neighbours Everton, and cross-city Manchester United. The club’s anthem is “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. As of 2012, Liverpool is the eighth-most valuable football team in the world.
Anfield was built in 1884 on land adjacent to Stanley Park, Liverpool. It was originally used by Everton F.C. before the club moved to Goodison Park after a dispute over rent with Anfield owner John Houlding. Left with an empty ground, Houlding founded Liverpool F.C. in 1892 and the club has played at Anfield ever since. The capacity of the stadium at the time was 20,000, although only 100 spectators attended Liverpool’s first match at Anfield.
In 1906 the banked stand at one end of the ground was formally renamed the Spion Kop after a hill in KwaZulu-Natal. The hill was the site of the Battle of Spion Kop in the Second Boer War, where over 300 men of the Lancashire Regiment died, many of them from Liverpool. At its peak, the stand could hold 28,000 spectators and was one of the largest single-tier stands in the world. Many stadia in England had stands named after Spion Kop, but Anfield’s was the largest of them at the time; it could hold more supporters than some entire football grounds.
Anfield could accommodate more than 60,000 supporters at its peak, and had a capacity of 55,000 until the 1990s. The Taylor Report and Premier League regulations obliged Liverpool to convert Anfield to an all-seater stadium in time for the 1993–94 season, reducing the capacity to 45,276. The findings of the Taylor Report precipitated the redevelopment of the Kemlyn Road Stand, which was rebuilt in 1992, coinciding with the centenary of the club, and is now known as the Centenary Stand. An extra tier was added to the Anfield Road end in 1998, which further increased the capacity of the ground but gave rise to problems when it was opened. A series of support poles and stanchions were inserted to give extra stability to the top tier of the stand after movement of the tier was reported at the start of the 1999–2000 season.
Because of restrictions on expanding the capacity at Anfield, Liverpool announced plans to move to a new stadium at Stanley Park in May 2002. Planning permission was granted in July 2004, and in September 2006, Liverpool City Council agreed to grant Liverpool a 999-year lease on the proposed site. Following the takeover of the club by George Gillett and Tom Hicks in February 2007, the proposed stadium was redesigned. The new design was approved by the Council in November 2007. The stadium was scheduled to open in August 2011 and would hold 60,000 spectators, with HKS, Inc. contracted to build the stadium. Construction was halted in August 2008, as Gillett and Hicks had difficulty in financing the £300 million needed for the development.
Liverpool is one of the best supported clubs in the world, with one of the highest average home attendances in Europe. The club’s worldwide fan base includes more than 200 officially recognised branches of the Association of International Branches (AIB) in at least 30 countries. The club takes advantage of this support through its worldwide summer tours. Liverpool fans often refer to themselves as Kopites, a reference to the fans who once stood, and now sit, on the Kop at Anfield. In 2008 a group of fans decided to form a splinter club, A.F.C. Liverpool, to play matches for fans who had been priced out of watching Premier League football.
The song “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, originally from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel and later recorded by Liverpool musicians Gerry & The Pacemakers, is the club’s anthem and has been sung by the Anfield crowd since the early 1960s. It has since gained popularity among fans of other clubs around the world. The song’s title adorns the top of the Shankly Gates, which were unveiled on 2 August 1982 in memory of former manager Bill Shankly. The “You’ll Never Walk Alone” portion of the Shankly Gates is also reproduced on the club’s crest.
Design of the top of a set of gates, with the sky visible. The inscription on the gates reads “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
The club’s supporters have been involved in two stadium disasters. The first was the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, in which 39 Juventus supporters were killed. They were confined to a corner by Liverpool fans who had charged in their direction; the weight of the cornered fans caused a wall to collapse. UEFA laid the blame for the incident solely on the Liverpool supporters, and banned all English clubs from European competition for five years. Liverpool was banned for an additional year, preventing it from participating in the 1990–91 European Cup, even though it won the League in 1990. Twenty-seven fans were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and were extradited to Belgium in 1987 to face trial. In 1989, after a five-month trial in Belgium, 14 Liverpool fans were given three-year sentences for involuntary manslaughter; half of the terms were suspended.
The second disaster took place during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, on 15 April 1989. Ninety-six Liverpool fans died as a consequence of overcrowding at the Leppings Lane end, in what became known as the Hillsborough disaster. In the following days The Sun newspaper published an article entitled “The Truth”, in which it claimed that Liverpool fans had robbed and urinated on the dead and had attacked the police. Subsequent investigations proved the allegations false, leading to a boycott of the newspaper by Liverpool fans across the city and elsewhere; many still refuse to buy The Sun more than 20 years later. Many support organisations were set up in the wake of the disaster, such as the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, which represents bereaved families, survivors and supporters in their efforts to secure justice.
Liverpool’s longest-established rivalry is with fellow Merseyside team Everton, against whom the club contest the Merseyside derby. Their rivalry stems from Liverpool’s formation and the dispute with Everton officials and the then owners of Anfield. Unlike other rivalries, there is no political, geographical or religious split between Liverpool and Everton. The Merseyside derby is usually sold out. It is one of the few local derbies which do not enforce fan segregation, and hence was known as the “friendly derby”. Since the mid-1980s, the rivalry has intensified both on and off the field and, since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, the Merseyside derby has had more players sent off than any other Premier League game. It has been referred to as “the most ill-disciplined and explosive fixture in the Premier League”.
Liverpool’s rivalry with Manchester United is viewed as a manifestation of the cities’ competition during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. The rivalry between the clubs intensified during the 1960s, after Manchester United became the first English team to win the European Cup in 1968, an achievement surpassed by Liverpool’s four European Cup victories in the 1970s and ’80s. Manchester United started to dominate English football during the 1990s, making the rivalry all the more intense. The last player to be transferred between the two clubs was Phil Chisnall, who moved to Liverpool from Manchester United in 1964