Police and politicians clear derby between Everton and Liverpool
Health and safety chiefs in north-west England have given the all-clear for Everton to host their Premier League clash against city rivals Liverpool on 21 June.
The match could offer Liverpool the chance to clinch their first top flight title in 30 years at the home of their city rivals - provided second placed Manchester City lose at home to Arsenal on 17 June.
That scenario had led to concerns that fans could congregate around Goodison Park and Liverpool’s Anfield stadium less than two kilometres away.
However, following a meeting on Wednesday between Liverpool councillors, police and supporters’ groups, the decision was taken to stage the match at Everton as scheduled rather than at a neutral venue.
"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," said Wendy Simon, who chairs the ground safety advisory group (GSAG).
The Everton and Liverpool supporters’ groups, Blue Union, and Spirit of Shankly, were represented at the CSAG meeting. Via social media, they both welcomed the decision to keep the game on Merseyside.
The Premier League will relaunch nearly three months after it was suspended as part of the British government’s attempts to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
When the Premier League shut down, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side was 25 points ahead of Manchester City with nine of their 38 games remaining.
During the hiatus, City launched an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport over a two year ban from the Champions League and Europa League after European football’s ruling body, Uefa, found the club guilty of breaching its rules on financial conduct. City deny any wrongdoing.
Judges are likely to give their ruling next month. But as lawyers ponder City’s fate and with the club light years behind Liverpool in the league, the City manager, Pep Guardiola, has targeted the FA Cup and the Uefa Champions League trophies.
Guardiola, who led the team to the Premier League title in 2018 and 2019, said he also wants the side to finish second, third or fourth so it can gain a place in the group stages of next season’s Champions League.
If City do win their games against Arsenal and Burnley, Liverpool could seal the title on home soil at Anfield against Crystal Palace on 24 June.
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