Premier League fans have been reminded to stay away from football grounds, or risk fixtures being moved to neutral venues for the remainder of the campaign.
English football’s top tier makes its return behind-closed-doors this evening, following a 100 day absence of Premier League action in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Neutral venues were initially discussed amid fears of fans congregating outside of stadiums which could increase the risk of a second spike of the virus, and Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, has warned that home and away fixtures could be scrapped if fans do not follow the calls to stay away.
“Fans are going to get some very clear messages from their clubs, from the managers and club captains, about staying away, about watching at home,” Masters said.
“That’s why all of the matches are on TV and many of them on a wider distribution, free-to-air basis.
“We’re very hopeful that there won’t be any incidents of gatherings outside of football matches and so hopefully it won’t occur.
“But obviously, should it occur, it might create a situation where the progress we’ve made on neutral venues could be at risk.”
Liverpool fans have been considered those who may be keen to congregate outside of stadiums with the club on the brink of a long-awaited league title, the Merseyside club potentially able to seal the championship this weekend at Goodison Park should results go in their favour.
Reds’ boss Jurgen Klopp has once again delivered a message urging fans to comply with the guidelines, reiterating the importance of remaining at home despite the anticipated title celebrations.
“It will be obviously, for some reasons, completely different, but you can still make it really special,” he told the official club website.
“When we all became aware of the problem we will have, all together, the whole world, that was the moment we realised football is not as important as the night before when played Atletico Madrid.
“I think that’s a good lesson to learn. We had to show responsibility and we showed it.
"I can promise you, we will feel your support. We are still with you and you'll never walk alone" ❤️
How your support from home will be used as motivation during the final run-in ✊
A personal message from Jürgen Klopp… pic.twitter.com/YXnFIpEWEZ
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 16, 2020
“There were times when we didn’t know if we would play again and there were rumours about null and void and points-per-game.
“Now, we stand here and the league will start again because we behaved responsibly. We did the things we had to do because we wanted to save our loved ones and all the others as well.
“So, the league starts again and we can go for our massive target again and for this we need you, we always needed you.
“It’s still football and it’s still for you. We will be in the stadium and you will be at home. I can promise you we will feel your support, I will make the boys feel your support. You are still the 80 or 90 per cent of the petrol in our tanks.
“Stay safe, support us from home. We are still with you and you’ll never walk alone.”
Aston Villa and Sheffield United get the action underway this evening at Villa Park before Man City host Arsenal.