LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 21, 2019: Players stand for a moment's silence to remember the victims of the pandemic during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 236th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool and Everton fans praised for defying prediction of crowds outside Goodison

Merseyside Police have issued a statement praising Liverpool and Everton fans for their diligence in not attending Goodison Park during Sunday night’s Merseyside derby.

The 236th Merseyside derby was among those flagged as a potential issue as the Premier League revealed its plans to return at the end of May.

Discussing were ongoing regarding the possibility of the game being played at a neutral venue, with South Yorkshire Police’s deputy chief constable Mark Roberts among those most vocally advocating a switch of stadia.

But with both Everton and the Merseyside Police convinced there would be no issues despite fears over the lockdown situation in the UK, the derby was given the green light to be held at Goodison.

As Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw on their return to action, there were no crowds congregating outside the stadium, despite the close proximity between the two clubs.

The pervading sound throughout the 90 minutes were the shouts of the players and staff, and as many in attendance reported, a lone saxophonist playing Joy Division and The Beatles.

This led to a straightforward evening for the Merseyside Police, who expressed their gratitude to supporters of both clubs for staying at home, in keeping with the spirit of a friendly rivalry.

Rob Carden, assistant chief constable, said:

“For the last five years, fans from both Everton and Liverpool have been supporting the foodbank initiative set up by Everton fans Dave Kelly and Robbie Daniels with Liverpool fan, and MP for West Derby, Ian Byrne, and the supporters’ groups Blue Union and Spirit of Shankly.

“And today fans showed again how they are able to come together to support their communities during times of crisis by staying at home to watch the game and help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

“This is a city that is passionate about its football and today will have seemed strange for many fans.

“But by staying at home, for the game today and games to come, they are playing their part to keep themselves, their families, friends and neighbours safe. Thank you.”

It serves as welcome recognition for the conduct of Liverpool and Everton fans, and vindicates the stance taken by the powers that be, in that the people of Liverpool can be trusted to act sensibly.

Police officers at Anfield (Dave Howarth/PA)

This comes after a climbdown from the city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, who in April was the subject of criticism from Liverpool Football Club after he made spurious claims over the Reds’ imminent title win.

“There’s not many people who would respect what we were saying and stay away from the ground,” Anderson said, with the club left “disappointed” due to a “lack of evidence to support such claims.”

He changed his stance at the beginning of June, and as Merseyside Police’s praise highlights, his initial views were false.