Plans for supporters to return to stadiums and watch live football from October 1 will not go ahead according to cabinet minister Michael Gove, BBC Sport reports.

This will mean that there will be no fans present during the 238th Merseyside derby clash at Goodison Park which is scheduled to take place on October 17.

Liverpool Fans Put Up Banners Ahead of Behind Closed Doors Matches

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JUNE 24: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Liverpool fans dress the Kop stand with flags and banners ahead of the Premier League match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield on June 24, 2020 in Liverpool, England.

It had previously been hoped that fans could return to limited-capacity football grounds from the start of October with stadiums being filled at 25 to 33 per cent full.

The plans were placed under review earlier this month after a rise in cases of Covid-19 which will continue to see sporting events played behind closed doors.

Earlier this month, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters claimed it was absolutely critical fans were allowed back inside stadiums as soon as possible and failure to do so would cost clubs £700m during the 2020-21 season.

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However, tighter restrictions have now been implemented following another spike in Covid-19 cases. Because of this, Gove has confirmed that the programme of welcoming fans back to matches has been paused.

“It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning,” Gove told BBC News.

“It wasn’t the case that we’d have stadiums thronged with fans. We’re looking for the moment at how we can pause that programme.

“What we do want to do is ensure that, as and when circumstances allow, we get more people back because the virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors.

“But, again, it’s in the nature of major sporting events that there’s a lot of mingling. People look back at the beginning of the pandemic and look at some of the major sporting events asking the question of why they were allowed to go ahead.

“One of the things we must do now, whatever the wisdom of the decisions made then, is to look at sporting events now with caution.

“We also recognise sport is a vital part of this nation and we’re looking at everything we can do to support our athletes and clubs through what will be a challenging time.”

Liverpool FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JUNE 24: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool looks on as his team warm up ahead of the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace at Anfield on June 24, 2020 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

What RTK has to say

It’s a tough pill to swallow given many had hoped a small return to reality was not too far away.

The news effectively puts an end to any hopes of Liverpool welcoming fans back to Anfield during the Reds’ Premier League bout with Sheffield United on October 24.

It ensures that no supporters will be present during matches against Aston Villa, Everton as well as West Ham.

The only positive to draw from what is a disappointing setback is that local rivals Everton will not be handed a home advantage in the derby next month which Liverpool can utilise to their advantage.

The fixture last season without fans was a dour encounter lacking the usual intensity and drive that befits a traditional Merseyside derby.

Everton are yet to beat Liverpool since 2011 and the absence of supporters isn’t going to boost their chances of getting one over their Merseyside rivals across Stanley Park.

 

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