LONDON (Reuters) - Premier League leaders Liverpool said they were ‘disappointed’ by the city’s mayor saying the season should not be re-started even behind closed doors because of the risk of fans gathering outside Anfield.
Liverpool were 25 points clear of closest rivals Manchester City, who have a game in hand, when the league was suspended in March and need only two wins to secure their first top flight title in 30 years.
Premier League clubs are set to meet on Friday to discuss ways to finish the season, with some already back in individual training.
Mayor Joe Anderson told the BBC on Thursday that health and safety was the bottom line and the best thing to do was to declare the season over and hand the title to Liverpool as deserving champions.
“Even if it was behind closed doors, there’d be many thousands of people who would turn up outside Anfield,” said Anderson, a fan of Liverpool’s city rivals Everton.
“There’s not many people who would respect what we were saying and stay away from the ground, a lot of people would come to celebrate so I think it’s a non-starter.
“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.”
Liverpool replied in a statement saying there was “a lack of evidence to support such claims”.
“In recent weeks, we have engaged with supporters’ groups who have informed us of their determination to respect social distancing measures,” the club added.
“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.”
Mark Roberts, the national lead for football policing, said on Wednesday that police want to be able to cancel the season if fans did not respect social-distancing guidelines once matches returned.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge