Liverpool have been handed renewed hope that the Premier League title can be lifted at Anfield following statements from both the Government and Merseyside Police.
Reports emerged earlier in the week that ‘high risk’ games could be moved to neutral venues as per the request of local forces, with at least two of the Reds’ fixtures earmarked in addition to any game in which they could secure the title, due to fears over fan gatherings.
The suggestion was, rightly, met with disdain as football fans were once again singled out despite images of mass public gatherings across the country.
The Merseyside Police released a statement on Saturday where they insisted they held no objections to games at both Goodison Park and Anfield going ahead as planned, stating:
“We have a good working relationship with both clubs, and their fan groups, and are content that we can work together in advance of the restart of the season.
“Decisions in relation to public health risk are made by the government and Public Health England and ultimately the final decision rests with the Safety Advisory Group, which is chaired by Liverpool City Council in line with the decisions made nationally in relation to sporting events.”
And the Government have supported such a stance having made it known that the decision to host games at individual stadiums will be decided by police and local authorities.
Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “It is up to each individual sport to apply (Government) guidelines and determine the way in which they do so.”
With trust and the support of the local police force already made known, the Merseyside derby and Liverpool’s clash against Crystal Palace, where the title could be secured, are both likely to go ahead as planned at their rightful grounds.
The logic and thought process behind the decision from football’s policing lead, deputy chief constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, was staggering.
And in an interview with the Telegraph, Arfon Jones, the police and crime commissioner for North Wales, labelled the plans as “nonsense” and demanded the evidence which underpinned their argument to be made public.
“The push to play at neutral venues is nonsense and is not supported by evidence,” Jones said.
“At the end of the day, there are not going to be any fans [at the matches]. They are basing neutral venues on the fact that fans may turn up to the ground, but there is no reason to suspect they will.”
While Jurgen Klopp was right in saying it is “not important” where Liverpool won the title, just that they did, it is the notion that football fans of northern clubs cannot be trusted which continues to pedal the same old rhetoric which no longer applies.
The Premier League will meet again on Thursday, June 4, to continue to discuss the matter among a myriad of others as the top-flight gears up for its return on June 17.