As many as six English top-flight fixtures look likely to be shifted due to crowd concerns when the league resumes on June 17
A police statement has confirmed that there is a desire for at least five Premier League games to be played away from the home team’s ground due to concerns of fans gathering at the stadiums and contravening rules on social distancing.
English football is returning behind closed doors following the coronavirus outbreak but there are worries of supporters waiting outside grounds and celebrating, particularly in Liverpool if and when the Reds win their first league title for 30 years, and their maiden crown in the Premier League era.
Goal can confirm that Manchester City vs Liverpool, Newcastle vs Liverpool and Everton vs Liverpool have been selected as matches to be played at neutral venues, as well as the game in which Jurgen Klopp’s side could secure the league title.
Liverpool’s stance is that they are happy to be guided by the authorities, though they have previously criticised the Mayor of the city, Joe Anderson, over comments made that suggested fans would “congregate outside Anfield”.
Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, which leads football policing in the UK, said in a statement issued via the Press Association: “Our discussions with the Premier League throughout this process have been positive, with a shared focus on the priority of public health.
“As such we have reached a consensus that balances the needs of football, while also minimising the demand on policing.
“The majority of remaining matches will be played at home and away as scheduled, with a small number of fixtures taking place at neutral venues, which, contrary to some reports, have yet to be agreed.
“The views and agreement of forces which host clubs have been sought and where there were concerns, the Premier League has been supportive in providing flexibility in arranging alternative venues where requested.
“This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines, and not to attend or gather outside the stadiums.”
The Premier League also released a statement in which they said they would like all games to be played home and away as scheduled, but that neutral venues remain a possibility for some fixtures.
They said: “The Premier League’s ambition is to complete all of our remaining fixtures this season home and away, where possible. We are working with our clubs to ensure risks are assessed and minimised, while co-operating with the police at a local and national level.
“Discussions with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and UK Football Policing Unit have been positive and are continuing. We are prepared for all outcomes and have a neutral venue contingency.”
There has been opposition to neutral grounds by some Premier League clubs, especially those fighting relegation such as Brighton, who are worried losing home advantage could adversely impact their survival attempts.
The Premier League yesterday confirmed plans to resume the season following the coronavirus outbreak, with games set to take place from June 17 onwards. To compensate for the lack of fans, all 92 remaining matches are set to be shown on television.