Klopp wants Liverpool to be 'best stay at home fans' amid police concerns

by Steven GRIFFITHS
Liverpool players showed their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement following death of George Floyd in the United States

Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool supporters to prove themselves the best "stay at home fans in the world" after English police said Friday they wanted any potential Premier League title-clincher for the Reds played at a neutral venue in a bid to avoid a mass gathering outside Anfield.

Premier League chiefs have set June 17 as the date for the top flight to restart following the coronavirus delay.

They hope to play the majority of the matches behind closed doors on a home and away basis at clubs' usual stadiums.

However, police are concerned about the issue of hardcore fans potentially flouting social distancing rules by congregating wherever their team play and want several fixtures, including Manchester City and Manchester United games not involving Liverpool, played at neutral venues.

Liverpool are two wins away from sealing their first English title for 30 years.

The Reds could be crowned champions as early as the first weekend of the restart if Manchester City lose to Arsenal and they beat Everton in a Merseyside derby.

"I heard a few days ago a really good phrase about how we have the best home fans in the world, so we should maybe now say the best stay at home fans in the world," Klopp told beIN SPORTS' Keys & Gray Show, which is available on YouTube.

"Now we are really desperate to play because we want to become champions on the pitch and it looks like we can do that wherever it will be," the German boss added.

"We hope it will be at Anfield but we don't know, and that's not important.

"Most of the people on this planet have never had a chance in the life to become champion of the Premier League, for us it looks like that we have that chance. So we take it.

"However, there will be a moment in our life when we have time and the opportunity and it's allowed again to celebrate together."

- 'Not perfect' -

Klopp insisted winning the title in an empty stadium would still be an "absolutely exceptional day in my life".

"It's not perfect, but we know for a while and it will not be perfect but we are already used to that."

Earlier on Friday, police said they had reached a consensus with the Premier League that "balances the needs of football, while also minimising the demand on policing".

"The majority of remaining matches will be played, at home and away as scheduled, with a small number of fixtures taking place at neutral venues, which, contrary to some reports, have yet to be agreed," said Mark Roberts, the Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police

"The Premier League's ambition is to complete all of our remaining fixtures this season home and away, where possible," a Premier League statement said.

"We are working with our clubs to ensure risks are assessed and minimised, while co-operating with the police at a local and national level."

There had been complaints from some clubs towards the bottom of the table, including Brighton, about the impact of playing at neutral venues on sporting integrity.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber is confident his relegation-threatened side's matches will not be at neutral venues.

"Obviously the majority of home games we expect to be at home for everybody," he said.

"And I understand there are some small number of games where the police do need to look more carefully at the operations for those games.

"But we don't know which games they are, we haven't been given that information so, as far as we're aware of this side, it doesn't affect our club."

Police want at least six Premier League matches played at neutral venues