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Reds reject claim that plan to restart League is 'farcical'

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Mayor Anderson told the BBC he would be concerned about large numbers of supporters congregating at Anfield. Photo: PA

Mayor Anderson told the BBC he would be concerned about large numbers of supporters congregating at Anfield. Photo: PA

PA

Mayor Anderson told the BBC he would be concerned about large numbers of supporters congregating at Anfield. Photo: PA

Liverpool could be denied the opportunity to seal the Premier League title at Anfield if public health concerns are factored into where the final matches of the 2019-20 season are played.

And the club has hit back at Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson who described proposals to resume the League in June as "farcical".

Top-flight clubs will hold further talks on how the season can be restarted amid the coronavirus pandemic at their next shareholders' meeting tomorrow.

Part of the 'Project Restart' discussions will centre around the use of approved venues, which may mean teams playing on neutral grounds and immediately throws up questions over competition integrity.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber says being unable to play all games home and away as planned would be a "further imperfection" on top of the already accepted imperfection of playing behind closed doors.

The UK's national football policing lead Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts said that playing all the remaining matches at their original venues would "present challenges" to the emergency services already stretched by the COVID-19 outbreak.

And mayor Anderson told the BBC he would be concerned about large numbers of supporters congregating at Anfield - in breach of rules around social distancing and mass gatherings - even if the decisive match was not played there.

Liverpool have responded to those comments with “disappointment”.

They said in a statement: “As a club, we are aware of and disappointed by comments attributed to Mayor Joe Anderson.

“As well as a lack of evidence to support such claims, we would also point to recent discussions with Mayor Anderson relating to the possibility of any behind-closed-doors football, which concluded that it is important that key stakeholders across the city continue to engage and work collaboratively.

“In recent weeks, we have engaged with supporters’ groups who have informed us of their determination to respect social distancing measures and, in the event of a resumption of football being announced, we would continue to work with them and other key stakeholders in keeping with our collective desire to achieve this crucial objective.”

With Jurgen Klopp’s side 25 points clear at the top of the table and on course to win the club’s first league title in 30 years prior to football being shut-down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the cancellation of the French and Dutch leagues in recent days has dented ambitions of the English top-flight to resume matches in June.

FIFA’s chief medical doctor Michel d’Hooghe has stated his belief that football should not return before September and suggested leagues should prepare for next season, with Mayor Anderson now echoing those sentiments.

“I think the best thing to do is to actually end the season,” he told the BBC. “It isn’t just about Liverpool – they’ve clearly won the league – they deserve it, they should be crowned league champions.

“The bottom line is this is about health and safety and people’s lives and I think football should have to come second in regards to making a choice here.

“I think it would be really difficult for the police to keep people apart and maintain social distancing if they were going to celebrate outside Anfield, it would be farcical.

“It’s difficult for us to try to stop people gathering in parks when the weather has been good, especially young people.

“And I fear people would just ignore it.”