Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and captain Jordan Henderson have paid tributes to mark the 31st anniverary of the Hillsborough disaster.
The Hillsborough Family Support Group was due to hold its last memorial service in memory of the 96 supporters who died at Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in 1989.
But the service was postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Players and staff will hold a minute’s silence and flags will be flown at half-mast while Klopp and Henderson posted poignant video messages on the club’s website.
“Today is the most significant date for our football club each year. The plan was for us to be together at Anfield but this is not possible. The only thing we can make sure is we are in each others’ thoughts,” said Klopp.
“Believe me you have our thoughts, you have our prayers and most of all you have our love. You’ll never walk alone.”
JÃ¼rgen Klopp has delivered a message to the families, survivors and Liverpool supporters on the 31st anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. pic.twitter.com/HMg7bGyyWn— Liverpool FC (at 🏠) (@LFC) April 15, 2020
Skipper Henderson also paid his own tribute as the club remembered.
“Today was a day when as a club we were all supposed to be together at Anfield to honour the lives of 96 people who went to a football match and never came home,” he said on the club’s website.
“The fact that we are unable to do so will make this anniversary especially hard for the families and survivors of Hillsborough.
“I’m not one for making speeches, but on behalf of all the players at Liverpool I just want to let everyone affected know that you are in our thoughts today.
“As ever, we are together in spirit even if we can’t be together in person. You’ll never walk alone.”
Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the group, said the service was due to be the last of its type as the families would remember their loved ones “in their own way” on future anniversaries.
She said: “In light of recent events, a decision was made collectively by the families to postpone our final memorial service at Anfield.
“We wish to keep as many people safe as possible and we believe this is the right approach.
“On behalf of the HFSG, I would like to thank everyone for their understanding in this matter.”
Fresh inquests held in 2016 found the 96 men, women and children were unlawfully killed and found that blunders by South Yorkshire’s police and ambulance services “caused or contributed to” their deaths, and exonerated Liverpool fans of wrongdoing.
It was announced in February that the families of the victims had decided to hold a last service after former police match commander David Duckenfield was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter following a retrial in November.
We stand together today as a family to remember the 96 Liverpool fans â men, women and children â who so tragically lost their lives at Hillsborough.— Liverpool FC (at 🏠) (@LFC) April 15, 2020
We are together in spirit today to offer our love and support on this very difficult day.
Youâll Never Walk Alone. pic.twitter.com/wHbnCJeCdh
The club tweeted a message to fans early on Wednesday morning.
Liverpool tweeted: “We stand together today as a family to remember the 96 Liverpool fans – men, women and children – who so tragically lost their lives at Hillsborough.
“We are together in spirit today to offer our love and support on this very difficult day. You’ll Never Walk Alone.”