Liverpool’s “immediate priority” is the safe return of supporters to Anfield, with it an ever-growing reality as test events go ahead across sport in England.
The last time fans were permitted to attend a game at the Reds’ stadium was on March 11, that being the 3-2 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
Allowing that clash to go ahead in front of a sold-out crowd, including the travelling support from Spain, has been criticised as irresponsible, with safety measures increasing in the aftermath.
The pre-season draw with Salzburg, held in Austria, was played out in front of a limited crowd, and this was followed by 2,524 supporters attending Brighton’s 1-1 friendly draw with Chelsea on Saturday—the first test event in top-level football in England.
At this stage, the signs are positive, and the hope is that fans can return to Anfield by October, albeit at a significantly reduced number, with chief executive Billy Hogan describing it as the club’s “immediate priority.”
“Clearly the immediate priority we’re all focused on is how we get our supporters back into Anfield,” he told Liverpool’s official website.
“The uncertainty of the current situation with the pandemic is obviously incredibly challenging, both from a business perspective—for every business around the world—but clearly for us as a club.
“So we’re working hard right now. We’ve obviously got to be guided by the government, and working together with all the clubs in the Premier League, so a lot of work going on behind the scenes in terms of how that’s going to work.”
The situation is largely out of the club’s hands at this point, but they will be working to prove they have the infrastructure within Anfield to safely accommodate supporters while socially distanced.
Anfield will be one of the most suitable stadia in this regard, following the expansion of the Main Stand in 2016, with the concourse throughout the redevelopment particularly spacious.
Reflecting on the test event at Brighton, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters described it as “very encouraging.”
“We are committed to having full stadia as soon as possible, with safety always our priority,” he continued.
The Premier League will need to take it a step at a time, and the priority, for now, should be reduced capacity for competitive games.
Liverpool’s possible first game with fans back at Anfield is the visit of Sheffield United on October 24, though there is also a Champions League tie to be held in the midweek before then, too.