Liverpool Football Club welcomes the decision by the local Ground Safety Advisory Group (GSAG) to support football matches being played behind closed doors on Merseyside.
Following already positive discussions with key partners including Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Police, Spirit of Shankly, Everton Football Club and Blue Union we have committed to working together to restart the season safely with the overriding aim of ensuring these games are completed by prioritising public health so the return to football is a success for Merseyside. These discussions are very much part of our normal matchday planning and arrangements.
Further dialogue between all partners is scheduled this week and together will provide clear and regular updates for supporters throughout this process.
We would like to thank the chair, the elected members of GSAG, and all those people who have been working tirelessly in the background for their support as we take the next step to completing the 2019-20 Premier League season.
Councillor Wendy Simon, deputy mayor of Liverpool and chair of the GSAG, said: “We are satisfied that the considerable evidence and guidance provided by the Government, Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs, Public Health colleagues and Merseyside Police will ensure that the outstanding fixtures for the 2019-20 Premier League season can be safely and securely played at both Goodison Park and Anfield.
“A lot of factors have been taken into consideration by the GSAG, especially the safety of the players, match officials and staff in attendance at both stadia. We are confident the measures in place will allow the matches to be held behind closed doors without any detrimental impact to all concerned and recommend to the city council that the safety certificates for both grounds be amended to allow this to happen.
“I’m sure fans of both teams will welcome this recommendation and, subject to ratification, we look forward to watching the first of these matches - the Merseyside derby on June 21 - which will be broadcast live on free-to-air TV for the first time since the Premier League began.
“We would also advise that everyone, wherever they may be watching these fixtures, to strongly adhere to the guidance on social distancing around the current COVID-19 pandemic and for not only these matches but the wider relaxation measures anticipated for the city.”
Assistant chief constable Rob Carden said: “We note the decision of the Ground Safety Advisory Group to agree that the outstanding fixtures for the 2019-20 Premier League season can be safely and securely played at Goodison and Anfield.
“Working together with both teams, Liverpool City Council, Spirit of Shankly, Blue Union, and other supporter groups we want to ensure that everyone enjoys the games from the safety of their own home.
“In relation to crime and disorder we have no objections to any of the Everton, or Liverpool, home fixtures being played at their respective grounds.
“The main issue of concern was always going to be public health. It is not the role of the police to make operational decisions on the basis of public health. We are guided by experts in public health and the Government. We accept the decision of the GSAG in this respect and will work closely with our partners to play our part in delivering safe events.
“We are still in unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there are strong concerns in Merseyside, and the wider north west, due to the fact that the R rate here is still higher than the rest of the country. For that reason we would urge supporters to do the right thing - stay at home, enjoy the opportunity to watch every second of the derby game free of charge on your own TV, in your own living room and keep yourself, your family, friends and neighbours safe.”
Supporters groups Blue Union and Spirit of Shankly said: “The Spirit of Shankly and the Blue Union welcome the news that games are to be played on Merseyside. Building on the magnificent community work both sets of fans have done throughout this pandemic, we are confident that supporters of these two great clubs will respect safety advice about avoiding visiting stadia where home and away fixtures are taking place. We fully understand the importance of lockdown as a measure to control COVID-19 and would encourage fans to stay away from any stadium and avoid congregating in numbers.”