Manager Jurgen Klopp has likened it to the eager anticipation of opening presents on Christmas Day, but Liverpool fans have been urged to stay at home ahead of the team’s trophy presentation at Anfield on Wednesday.
Contrary to government guidelines, fans gathered outside the stadium as Chelsea defeated Manchester City last month and Liverpool’s 30-year wait to be crowned English champion came to an end.
Flares and fireworks were set off as supporters congregated outside Anfield, and now authorities have warned the public to avoid the stadium during Liverpool’s game against Chelsea, which will be followed by the official trophy presentation.
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“On this occasion, the best seat in the house is in your living room,” said assistant chief constable Natalie Perischine from Merseyside Police.
“There is simply no benefit to going to the ground and we as a city cannot afford for people to gather in large numbers.
“We are all still in unprecedented times due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the last thing anyone wants is a resurgence of cases in Merseyside, with every life lost a tragedy.”
Matt Ashton, director of public health at Liverpool City Council, said that the threat of a second lockdown is “very real” in the city, while Peter Moore, CEO of the football club, emphasized that “nothing is happening outside of the stadium” during Wednesday’s game.
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“It’s gutting for all of us that our fans are not with us in person, but we can still make this one of the most enjoyable shared experiences we’ve ever had if we want it to be,” said club captain Jordan Henderson in his notes to Wednesday’s match program.
“If anyone reads this column or these words prior to the evening of the match, I cannot say clearly enough it is critically important you stay away from Anfield and enjoy celebrating with us in your own way, at home.”
According to UK government figures, there have been 2,485 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Liverpool with the North West of England the worst-affected part of the country.
Liverpool has suffered defeats to Manchester City and Arsenal since wrapping up the title, and Wednesday’s opponent Chelsea, currently third in the table, still has plenty to play for with a Champions League spot at stake.
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The Reds have enjoyed a record-breaking season that saw them wrap up the title with seven matches remaining and at one point hold a 25-point lead at the top of the table.
Club legend Kenny Dalglish, who was manager when Liverpool last won the league title in 1990, will hand the players their medals at the ceremony held in Anfield’s Kop, which will be surrounded by fan banners.
The event is being broadcast free-to-air by Sky so fans can watch from home.
“Again, I promise we will have this party, which everybody deserves, at an appropriate time – pretty much the first possibility we will use to do exactly what everybody deserves,” said Klopp.
“But we can do it only if everybody behaves appropriately. That’s how it is.”