LONDON: Liverpool are confused by a police proposal that some of their remaining matches should be played at neutral venues once the Premier League restarts on Wednesday, June 17.
Jurgen Klopp’s team are two wins away from the club’s first league title in 30 years but police have suggested moving as many as 12 high-profile matches to neutral venues because of the risk of fans congregating outside venues and spreading coronavirus.
At least three of those matches would involve Liverpool: the derby against Everton on the weekend of June 20-21 as well as games away to Manchester City and Newcastle. If Manchester City lose to Arsenal on June 17 then Liverpool could win the title by winning the derby.
The proposal has come from Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the head of UK’s football policing unit, despite opposition from the local Merseyside police.
Klopp remains focused on when and how not where.
He said: “Most of the people on this planet never have the chance in their life to be champions of the Premier League. For us it looks like we have a chance so we take it and celebrate together in the right manner, whenever that will be, wherever it will be, even in an empty stadium.
“With all the thoughts and prayers and love from all the people around the world it will still be an absolutely exceptional day in my life. Yes it’s not perfect but we’ve known for a while that it won’t be perfect so we’re used to that. I’m sure it will still feel pretty good.”
The restart decision was taken by the clubs last Thursday. Some 92 matches are still to be played, all behind closed doors, and all will be broadcast live: 64 by Sky, 20 by BT Sport, four on the BBC and four on Amazon. Pay-per-view channel Sky will make 25 games available
Free in addition to the four on free-to-air BBC.
Full contact training has resumed and several clubs want to stage practice matches at their own empty stadiums to prepare their players for games behind closed doors. They are also considering broadcasting recorded crowd noise into their stadiums.
On Thursday the clubs will also consider various ideas to enhance TV coverage such as cameras in the dressing rooms plus half-time interviews with coaches and players. This be a further gesture to broadcasters in addition to a financial rebate of £120m. That is half the sum the clubs had faced for the contract breaches caused by the season’s interruption.
A further uncertainty concerns resolving the relegation issue if a spike in the pandemic forces the season to be suspended again. Clubs in the bottom six sides will oppose the use of a points-per-game calculation.
At present Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth are in the bottom three. West Ham and Watford are above 18th-placed Bournemouth on goal difference and Brighton, who were 15th before the season was suspended in March, are two points above Eddie Howe’s side. However Villa will go 16th if they win their game in hand at home to Sheffield United on June 17, pushing Watford into the drop zone.
An alternative formula, weighted to reflect home and away results, would mean West Ham taking Bournemouth’s place in the bottom three.
The FA Cup Final has been rescheduled for August 1. The quarter-finals will be played over the weekend of June 27 and 28, and the semi-finals on July 18 and 19, with the intention being for those matches and the final to be played at Wembley behind closed doors.
As for the second tier, the Championship, this will follow the Premier League’s lead and restart on June 20 with the promotion play-off final on July 30. All 108 remaining fixtures, plus the play-offs, will be televised live either on Sky or streamed.