Police fear crowds will gather at stadiums when league resumes

Sadio Mane of Liverpool battles for possession with Fernandinho of Manchester City during the Premier League match at Anfield on November 10, 2019 in Liverpool
Sadio Mane of Liverpool battles for possession with Fernandinho of Manchester City during the Premier League match at Anfield on November 10, 2019 in Liverpool
Image: Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

The chief of Greater Manchester Police says he is concerned fans would still congregate at stadiums even if they are not allowed in to watch Premier League games due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Clubs held discussions this week on how to complete the campaign and hopes of a June restart have been given a boost by the government saying elite sport could return after June 1.

Clubs have been informed that any resumption would see games played at neutral venues approved from a health and safety point of view but they remain hopeful they can still find a way to play games on the home and away basis.

"Liverpool coming to Manchester City I have no doubt would attract crowds whether they're allowed in the ground or not. It needs very careful thinking through," Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters.

"What we're fearful of is that people will turn up either at neutral grounds or at home grounds, and some of that could be particularly problematic."

Hopkins said that from a policing perspective it would not be an impossible challenge.

"But we're in ... difficult times, and it remains a health issue so the thought of large groups of people coming together and not practising social distancing is a difficult one."

More than 226,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom and more than 32,000 people have died.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur and England midfielder Dele Alli was robbed at knifepoint at his North London home in the early hours of Wednesday and the assailants got away with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of valuables, British media reported.

Alli, 24, and his adopted brother Harry Hickford were reportedly hurt in the incident after two men wielding knives broke into the player's home in Barnet and threatened them.

"Two males gained entry to the property and stole items of jewellery, including watches, before fleeing," the Mirror quoted the Metropolitan Police as saying.

"Two male occupants at the property suffered minor facial injuries after being assaulted. They did not require hospital treatment. No arrests; enquiries into the circumstances continue."

Alli and Hickford's girlfriends as well as a friend were also in the house when the incident occurred, the reports said, adding that the occupants were playing cards when the robbers broke in.

Alli is due to return to training with Spurs next week ahead of a possible resumption of Premier League matches in June following the coronavirus pandemic.

- Reuters

 

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