Liverpool Officials Fear Premier League Title Win Will Take Place Behind Closed Doors
The coronavirus outbreak could mean that no LFC fans are present to see the club finally end their 30-year wait for a league title.
It's the moment Liverpool loyalists have dreamed of: watching Jurgen Klopp and the boys go wild as they clinch the league title at either a joyous Anfield or, second best, as part of a raucous away support.
They probably don't fantasise about taking in that moment stood over a sink at home, washing their hands and singing "Happy Birthday" in their head, while the game is played behind closed doors. But - according James Pearce in The Athletic - this is the scenario LFC officials are dreading.
Liverpool's gargantuan 25-point lead over Manchester City means the league title is all but sewn up. It's now just the case of the where, when and how that's preoccupying Reds' fans.
Yet fears of the impact of the coronavirus hangs over this. Games in Serie A are being played in empty stadiums - including Sunday's title-impacting clash between Juventus and Inter - as officials try to control the spread. There's also talk of the Bundesliga finishing the 2019-20 season without live spectators.
If the Premier League follows suit, Liverpool would have the eerie honour of lifting the trophy they crave most in a vacant and near-silent stadium.
Officials at both the Premier League and Liverpool FC are taking this threat very seriously, with several measures being taken at Anfield to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak. This ranges from a deep clean of all areas used by the players to no mascots at Liverpool home games until further notice.
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James Milner, man of the match for the 2-1 win against Bournemouth, wasn't allowed to meet corporate guests post-match on Saturday. At least that left them with more biscuits.
Joe Blott, chair of Liverpool supporters' union Spirit of Shankly, told The Athletic: "Going to the game on Saturday, every fan I spoke to said exactly the same - winning it behind closed doors is our worst fear. It's what everyone is talking about.
"After such a long wait and after such an incredible season, that would be very sad. It's a moment in history everyone wants to be there for. We just hope it won't come to that."
Pre-match handshakes have already been halted. Now, government officials are meeting with broadcasters and the Premier League this week to discuss plans if a nationwide ban on mass gatherings is announced.
The worst-case scenario, in a purely Liverpool FC sense, is that this could also postpone the trophy parade provisionally planned for May. The event was expected to attract around a million people to the streets of the city.
Of course, all of this is subject to change depending on a serious and highly fluid situation.
But given how Klopp's side feed off the energy of their fans, it would be a cruel blow for them to miss out on joining in the party. We'll just go ahead and assume that every football fan in Manchester also feels the same way. Right?
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