There’s something special about a big European night in Liverpool – and if you can’t be at the ground there aren’t many better places to watch the game than at Camp and Furnace.
The cavernous, multi-purpose venue has experienced some stellar nights lately, aided in no small way by Liverpool’s sensational run in the Champions League. Thousands of Reds have watched the drama unfold in the venue’s self-styled Fan Park, helping them win the BT Sport Manager of the Month award for March.
Liverpool legend and BT Sport pundit Steve McManaman recently visited Camp and Furnace to present the trophy to deputy manager Zak Padmore.
But it’s not just the red half of the city that enjoys the venue. Everton fans also pack the place whenever their side is in action.
Zak told us:
We are blue and red. The European nights are bouncing and we have had some great Premier League games as well. It’s the place in Liverpool.
Winning the BT Sport Manager of the Month Award clearly means a lot to the Camp and Furnace. Zak said of the recognition: “You see things on Facebook and social media, and staff come here on their nights off to watch a game even though it’s their place of work, but it’s also nice to be recognised on a national level.
“You would be hard-pushed to find somewhere as good as this. Scousers love their football and the atmosphere here is something else.”
The converted Georgian warehouse’s previous uses include a foundry, coach builders and blade-making factory. It opened in its latest guise six years ago and now describes itself as a “restaurant, bar, indoor festival site, music venue, pop-up event space, conference location, cultural hub and all-round surprising destination.”
It sprawls over 35,000 sq ft with a lobby bar and two huge rooms, each able to accommodate around 1,000 people to enjoy the various bars and big screens.
One of the biggest nights in its recent history was when Liverpool reached the final of the Europa League in 2016. It was packed by 4pm.
This year’s Champions League final could see more than 2,000 people through the doors.
Zak continued: “The vast majority of our games are not ticketed at all. It’s free entry but should Liverpool get to the final we probably will have to ticket it because we don’t want to be turning people away.
“We have a golden circle at the front for 100 people where you pay a tenner to guarantee a seat and get a pint and a hot dog. We don’t want to do much more than that because we want everyone to know we will always show Everton and Liverpool games when they are on telly and you can always come down and watch it.”
Getting the staffing and stock levels right can be one of the challenges for a venue that employs around 50 people and can see 1,000 pints sold for a big game.
Not that Zak’s complaining: “The European nights are bouncing in here and we have had some good Premier League games as well. It’s the place in Liverpool.
“The second leg of the Man City match was a bit tense but as soon as Liverpool got a goal the songs came out. We sold a lot of pints. It is nice to be on the bar watching people on the tables chanting, singing and SnapChatting.”
Steve McManaman, who has experienced plenty of memorable European nights himself, was impressed by what he saw.
“It’s probably as good an atmosphere that you can get without being at the stadium,” he said: “You get a lot of people in here and they can have a beer and watch it on such a grand scale with many hundreds of people all probably cheering for the same thing.
“You just hope Liverpool can get to the final and it will be even more special.”
He added: “People work hard up and down the country at venues like this putting on special occasions so it’s good that they are being noticed and recognised.”
As well as winning the Manager of the Month title and the visit from Steve, the venue will also receive a 4K TV.
Have you or someone you know got what it takes to be a BT Sport Manager of the Month? Make your nomination and tell us why by tweet @BTSportBars using the hashtag #BTMOTM