Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool, would now be in favour of the Merseyside derby taking place at Everton later this month.
Liverpool could potentially wrap up a first Premier League title at Everton on June 21, in both sides’ first match back since the season was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic three months ago.
Fears of fans congregating outside Goodison Park or Anfield led to speculation the game could be held at a neutral venue but Merseyside Police have said there were no objections from the force to holding games at either ground.
Anderson has previously voiced his opposition to the season restarting on a home-and-away basis because of the risk of supporters gathering outside stadiums.
And while he is adamant that the general public should stay away from venues, he has withdrawn his complaint at the two Merseyside grounds staging fixtures.
“We are in a better place than we were four weeks ago and we’ve been able to convey why it’s so important nobody congregates outside or near grounds,” he told The Athletic.
“We have had the opportunity since then to speak to fans and the clubs have done their part and got the message across that the supporters need to stay away. Both clubs have made it clear. (Liverpool manager) Jurgen Klopp has made it clear.
“So I would have no objection to the games being played at our clubs’ home grounds, both the derby at Goodison and Liverpool’s games at Anfield.”
We are in a better place than we were four weeks ago and we’ve been able to convey why it’s so important nobody congregates outside or near groundsLiverpool mayor Joe Anderson
Data from Public Health England last week indicated the ‘R’ rate of infection in the north-west was fractionally above one, the point at which the virus takes off again.
The Government has indicated certain regions could be locked down if transmission rates are elevated but Anderson is hopeful about the issue.
“The Government only moved towards the relaxing of lockdown when the R-rate dropped below one and the figures we’ve got is that it has climbed back above that in our city now,” he added.
“So that is clearly a big concern — but if people abide by what we are asking them to do, the games should be alright. We’ve had time to talk to the fan groups and they’ve helped get the message out, too. It can be done.
“Merseyside Police have made it clear they support the derby going ahead and they are the ones responsible for policing outside the ground and maintaining social distancing.”
Liverpool need just two victories from their final nine fixtures to claim a first top-flight crown in 30 years but they will be able to wrap it up at the Toffees if second-placed Manchester City lose to Arsenal on June 17.
However, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp believes any title parade may have to be put on hold for a few months because of the public health crisis.
“That you can’t celebrate in the way you’ve always dreamed of, that’s not nice, I totally understand that,” he told Sky Germany. “I feel the same way. It’s not that my ideal is to celebrate alone in the stadium, then just drive home.
“It wasn’t like that when you thought about it. But that cannot be changed now. Why should we now make a big deal about something that can’t be changed?
“When someone has found the vaccine, when someone has found a solution to the problem, when infection rates are zero or below – that day will come eventually. Then we have the right to celebrate what we want to celebrate.
“If this is the 12th or 13th matchday of next season and we want to celebrate it – who is going to stop it?
“Then we still have the trophy and then we can drive it around town and stand on the bus. If other people then think that we are completely crazy, I honestly don’t care.”