Liverpool Football Club has condemned the behaviour of crowds of fans who gathered in the city to celebrate the club’s Premier League win.
Merseyside Police issued a section 34 dispersal order for the city centre on Friday night, allowing them to disperse crowds who had gathered on the Pier Head, after part of the Liver Building caught fire amid the wild celebrations.
A joint statement on behalf of the club, Liverpool City Council and Merseyside Police was issued on Saturday.
It said: “Several thousand people turned up at the Pier Head on Friday June 26 and some chose to ignore the social distancing guidance and risk public safety.
“Our city is still in a public health crisis and this behaviour is wholly unacceptable.
“The potential danger of a second peak of Covid-19 still exists and we need to work together to make sure we don’t undo everything that has been achieved as a region during lockdown.
“When it is safe to do so, we will all work together to arrange a victory parade when everyone can come together to celebrate.
“Until that time, the safety of our city and our people continues to be our number one priority.”
Videos circulating on social media showed a firework hitting the Liver Building, which is partly owned by Everton FC majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, as fans celebrated the club’s first Premier League win in 30 years.
Four fire engines were sent to the building, where they extinguished a blaze on a balcony, a Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said. The extent of the damage was not known.
Merseyside Police said the crowd developed quickly and officers had to close off side roads leading to the area for public safety.
The statement added: “We all understand that fans want to celebrate, but now is not the time. We need to get through this first, and know that it is safe, before any victory parade can go ahead.
“But rest assured, when the time is right the city can have a party and paint the town red, but we need to be patient for the safety of the public of Merseyside.”
A Section 34 Dispersal Order has been issued around the Liverpool City Centre (seen on map) under the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 following large gatherings in the area this evening. The order will be in place until 28th June. pic.twitter.com/6BVSZzibKI— Merseyside Police (@MerseyPolice) June 26, 2020
Metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said: “As a lifelong Red to say I was disappointed by the actions of a minority of people last night would be an understatement.
“The vast, vast majority of supporters followed the advice of the police, the club, the council, myself and others, to celebrate safely and at home. They deserve our praise and thanks for doing so.
“Unfortunately, a small minority of people did not listen to these pleas and instead chose to gather in public.
“In some cases, people behaved in a way that would be unacceptable even if we were not still grappling with a global pandemic.”
The Liverpool Echo carried video that appeared to show glass bottles being thrown at police.
A police spokesman was unable to confirm that bottles had been thrown or the number of people arrested, but said there had been “significant disorder” overnight.
On Saturday the area was left littered with discarded bottles and rubbish and council street cleaners were on site.
It followed supporters packing into the area around Anfield Stadium on Thursday night when Liverpool claimed the title as the final whistle blew in the match between Chelsea and Manchester City.
Merseyside Police anticipated people coming together to mark Liverpool becoming champions of England for the first time since 1990 again on Friday night, but had warned fans to wait for official celebrations.
I am really concerned about scenes at Pier Head tonight. I appreciate #LFC fans want to celebrate but please, for your own safety, and that of others, go home and celebrate at home. Covid-19 is still a major risk and our city has already lost far too many people to the illness pic.twitter.com/fqoQZvcSQG— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) June 26, 2020
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said on Twitter he was “really concerned” about the crowds on Friday night but said the council did not have the power to disperse the gathering.
He said: “I appreciate #LFC fans want to celebrate but please, for your own safety, and that of others, go home and celebrate at home.
“Covid-19 is still a major risk and our city has already lost far too many people to the illness.”