Liverpool sits 25 points clear of its competition in the Premier League and is all but assured of its first top-flight title in 30 years, but the club's own city mayor has no interest in seeing the Reds attempt to finish off that achievement on the field–not even behind closed doors or at a neutral venue.
Mayor Joe Anderson told the BBC that he has concerns about fans flouting social distancing protocols to come celebrate outside Anfield if and when Liverpool does clinch the title. Instead, he'd prefer to see the season ended now, with Liverpool crowned champion. It wouldn't be without precedent, with France's Ligue 1 doing just that on Thursday and giving first-place PSG the title. But the threat of a mass gathering amid the coronavirus outbreak has the mayor fearing the worst.
"Even if it was behind closed doors, there'd be many thousands of people who would turn up outside Anfield," Anderson said. "There's not many people who would respect what we we're saying and stay away from the ground, a lot of people would come to celebrate, so I think it's a non-starter.
"I think the best thing to do is to actually end the season," he continued. "It isn't just about Liverpool–they've clearly won the league–they deserve it, they should be crowned league champions. The bottom line is, though, this is about health and safety and people's lives, and I think football should have to come second in regards to making a choice here."
Liverpool doesn't quite see eye-to-eye with his assessment. Clearly, the club agrees in that it believes it deserves to be crowned as the winners, but it isn't about to give up on returning to action to complete the season on the field if a safe and secure method to do so can be achieved.
"As a club, we are aware of and disappointed by comments attributed to Mayor Joe Anderson in a media interview which was published today," Liverpool wrote. "As well as a lack of evidence to support such claims, we would also point to recent discussions with Mayor Anderson relating to the possibility of any behind-closed-doors football, which concluded that it is important that key stakeholders across the city continue to engage and work collaboratively.
"In recent weeks, we have engaged with supporters’ groups who have informed us of their determination to respect social distancing measures and, in the event of a resumption of football being announced, we would continue to work with them and other key stakeholders in keeping with our collective desire to achieve this crucial objective. As part of our ongoing operations, we are in regular contact with the Mayor and his office and we hope these conversations can continue.
"In the meantime, our primary focus remains responding to the humanitarian crisis which continues to unfold and in particular providing ongoing support to various NHS initiatives and those experiencing food poverty and social isolation."
The Premier League is staging a meeting of its 20 clubs on Friday in which the future of the season–which has been dubbed "Project Restart"–will be discussed. A few Premier League clubs–Arsenal, Brighton, Tottenham and West Ham–have reopened their facilities for limited training, while the hope as of now is to ramp up training across the league in May in anticipation of a June 9 resumption of the season, with all matches played behind closed doors and neutral venues being used if necessary.