Police fear crowds will gather at stadiums when league resumes

  • Football
  • Thursday, 14 May 2020

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - POSTPONED - Manchester City v Arsenal - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - March 11, 2020 General view of the Etihad Stadium as the match is postponed while the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

(Reuters) - 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.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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