Belfast Telegraph

Council defers derby decision

Liverpool City Council has deferred a decision on its next course of action in relation to the kick-off time of February's Merseyside derby.

The authority will take further legal advice and wait for a response from the Premier League after Merseyside Police initially raised objections to the 5.30pm start time on Saturday, February 7 at Goodison Park.

After the fixture was moved in order to be televised by Sky Sports, the police elevated the match to a Category C fixture, with reference to there being a high risk of disorder.

They want the match to start earlier and although the council's licensing committee support that stance it wants further investigation of its options to be made before it makes a definitive decision.

"Merseyside Police do not support this fixture being played at 1730 on Saturday February 7 2015 and reiterate our position that this fixture should have a kick-off time of no later than 1.30pm on a weekend," said the police in a report to a special meeting of the ground safety advisory committee.

Everton informed the Premier League on December 9 of the police's objections and the issue was discussed on Tuesday by the council's licensing committee, who initially said it would "take legal advice on all appropriate options to enforce the position" in the event of no change of kick-off time being determined.

They have deferred any course of action until they reconvene again in the new year.

Merseyside Police's report stressed there was no specific intelligence indicating any organised disorder is planned but stated the wider implications of a late kick-off meant they had to take action now.

"I firmly believe that, the police, the clubs, and the city council have a responsibility to minimise the likelihood of those problems and their impact, not only on supporters within the footprint of the stadium, but also the wider community," said the report.

"An evening kick-off time at a weekend is undoubtedly the most challenging and gives us the least chance of meeting our responsibilities.

"It is for this reason we, the police have specifically requested that this fixture should have a lunchtime kick-off."

The Premier League has yet to respond but in the past it has previously allowed the scheduling of Swansea versus Cardiff to go ahead at a similar time.

A statement from the Premier League said: "Everton FC has confirmed to the Premier League that they are able to host the match against Liverpool FC at 1730 on 7 February 2015 as scheduled."

Only if there are concerns over a safety certificate being issued could a change be viable, and as that is not a consideration and Everton have confirmed they are in a position to stage the game Press Association Sport understands there are no plans by the Premier League to alter the kick-off time.


From Belfast Telegraph