SPORT

Liverpool face Anfield ban if fans don’t stop partying in streets

Champions Liverpool face being banned from playing their remaining home games at Anfield unless fans stop partying on the streets.

The club joined Merseyside Police, the City Council and Mayor Joe Anderson in condemning some of their own supporters for “wholly unacceptable” behaviour, which “risked public safety” as thousands swarmed into the city centre, despite repeated warnings over the spread of coronavirus.

The iconic Liver Building was set on fire by a firework on Friday as fans ignored social-distancing rules and dropped tons of litter while marking the club’s first top-flight title for 30 years.

A joint statement from Liverpool, the police and the council said: “Several thousand people turned up at the Pier Head on Friday and some chose to ignore the social distancing guidance and risk public safety.

“Our city is still in a public health crisis and this behaviour is wholly unacceptable.

“The potential danger of a second peak of Covid-19 still exists and we need to work together to make sure we don’t undo everything that has been achieved.

“When it is safe to do so, we will all work together to arrange a victory parade when everyone can celebrate.

“Until that time, the safety of our city and our people continues to be our No1 priority.”

Merseyside Police issued a dispersal order on Friday night covering a large part of Liverpool city centre and it will remain in force until tomorrow.

Chief Constable Andy Cooke confirmed 15 arrests during Friday’s chaotic scenes.

He tweeted a statement yesterday, which read: “Those who gathered last night have potentially increased the danger of a further rise in the pandemic.

“In addition, the actions of the minority were not only irresponsible but criminal. It is tarnishing the reputation of our city and Liverpool FC.

“Children and families were present and heavy-handed police intervention was therefore not appropriate.

“Later, 15 people were arrested for violent disorder and my officers were subjected to a number of violent confrontations. This is not acceptable.

“In relation to those involved in criminal or anti-social behaviour, we will be looking at CCTV images and body-worn cameras to identify those responsible and take action.

“The threat from this pandemic will end. It will then be safe to celebrate the right way.

“For the good of your city, club and, most importantly, those who are at highest risk of dying from this disease, stay at home. The danger has not gone away and people are dying. The celebration can wait.”

The Premier League declined to comment but the local Ground Safety Advisory Group may come under pressure to recommend revoking the safety certificate Anfield needs to stage matches.

GSAG chief, Councillor Wendy Simon, had warned fans to “strongly adhere to the guidance on social distancing around the Covid-19 pandemic”.

In April, Mayor Anderson was slammed by the club, ex-players and supporters for saying restarting the season was a “non-starter” because Reds fans would defy lockdown to celebrate at Anfield.

Yesterday he tweeted: “More in sorrow than anger, like most LFC fans & residents I condemn those that brought a negative focus on @LFC and our City.

“The pics, videos showing people’s behaviour is being talked about instead of the fantastic achievement of LFC. Thank you to those fans who have listened.”

Jurgen Klopp’s team have three home games left — Aston Villa on Sunday, then Burnley before Chelsea on the penultimate weekend of the season.

The Blues match is when the Prem plan to present the trophy.

But recent events could scupper those plans and further tarnish the long-awaited achievement, with skipper Jordan Henderson forced to raise the Prem trophy in a neutral venue, rather than an empty Anfield.

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, who was pictured in the city centre on Friday, is unlikely to face any action from employers Sky Sports.

It is understood the ex-defender insists he and his son maintained social distancing when they were out — including when asked for photographs like the one circulating on social media.

Police raised concerns about staging some home games during Project Restart’s planning stage.

The derby at Goodison last Sunday and the Reds’ trip to Manchester City on Thursday were the last games given the OK.

Liverpool celebrated at a hotel on Thursday but are all training together in their team bubble and have all tested negative for
Covid-19.

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