Liverpool will not lift Premier League title at Anfield after decision in latest meeting
As Liverpool built that unassailable lead, it would only have been human, however much Jurgen Klopp and his players seemed determined to keep a lid on things. But one concrete thing to emerge from the four-hour teleconference call between the 20 clubs on Friday is that it is a dream that will not be realised this season at least.
Liverpool will not be seeing their fans again. No Kop. No Anfield, even. The 2019-20 season is still clinging on for life, but home games are a thing of the past.
The Premier League have outlined the strict limitations that would need to be in place for football even to have a chance of restarting any time soon.
Games would have to be played at 10 specially-commissioned neutral venues, with clubs banned from using their own games to serve the integrity of the competition.
There would be no more home advantage; but, the Premier League explained, no more away disadvantage either.
The final list would take time to compile as the pattern of coronavirus in the country evolves.
Isolated arenas such as the Etihad and the London Stadium would be ideal – although their location in pandemic hot-spots could cause issues with St John Ambulance attendance and police stewarding.
Bristol was highlighted as a more favourable region, but their clubs’ grounds are considered too small for the required social distancing requirements of even a trimmed-down match day entourage.
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Premier League clubs such as Norwich, Brighton, Southampton and Bournemouth at the moments seem to be areas less affected by the problems.
Training will have to start in groups of five with players wearing masks or snoods. Five substitutes per match in order to preserve weary limbs. The stands will be empty.
It may not be as we know it, but it will be football of a fashion, and according to the culture minister, that is what the nation wants.
“I know Briton’s desperately want sport back on,” Oliver Dowden tweeted on Friday. “We just kicked off the first of many detailed meetings to plan for a safe return of elite sport behind closed doors when, and only when, it is safe to do so on the basis of expert medical advice. Lots to consider, but today we step up planning.”
But what sort of football will it be?
Something for the broadcasters, certainly, to fill the yawning chasm of schedules that have been aching for live sport ever since the lockdown.
But the fact that is will only be possible at a handful of sanitised venues appears to sound a death knell for the hopes of a resumption of the game anywhere further down the pyramid.
Where can the 300 remaining EFL games take place?
Celebrations will be curtailed. Goals greeted by piped in crowd noise perhaps, but it certainly won’t seem real.
And no amount of fireworks will hide the emptiness of whichever corner of the country Henderson is in when he eventually gets hold of that long-coveted trophy.
In fairness to Henderson and his club, nobody is too bothered about that. Liverpool have been made to complete a season in deplorable circumstances before, after Hillsborough, and those memories carry with them perspective.
Like many of the established Premier League clubs, there is a whole industry built around Liverpool’s existence locally.
If football cowers away from coronavirus now, the landscape may not change for 12 months or more. How many of those businesses will still be in existence then?
How many of those clubs?
It will take bravery from the players and managers – the ones who will suddenly be in a new front line against the disease.
But then the moral integrity of our Premier League footballers has been a guiding beacon right from the start of the crisis.
Lives may not be in their hands, but certainly a large number of livelihoods.
Published at Fri, 01 May 2020 19:44:00 +0000