Liverpool will face Everton at Goodison Park in the Merseyside derby once the Premier League resumes action.
The decision has been confirmed after much speculation that the game would be played at a neutral venue in order to prevent crowds gathering in the city of Liverpool while social distancing measures are still in place.
The game will be the 236th edition of the Merseyside derby. It can now be staged at Everton’s home ground after Liverpool city council’s ground safety advisory group met on Wednesday.
At that meeting, the safety advisory group confirmed a security certificate for the Toffees’ stadium, meaning that the Reds could actually claim their first league title for 30 years at the stadium of their local rivals.
Even as late as Tuesday this week, St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton was being mooted as possible neutral venue at which to play the game.
Once Merseyside Police and the city council threw their support behind staging the game at Goodison, though, most objections to staging the game in the city of Liverpool were overcome.
The city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, had previously stated that he did not want games played in Liverpool due to the danger such events posed during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Anderson has now thanked both Liverpool and Everton for asserting that fans would not currently be welcome at either of their stadiums.
Council back plans
The deputy mayor of Liverpool, councillor Wendy Simon, who also chairs the council’s safety advisory group, was satisfied that it was safe for the game to go ahead.
“A lot of factors have been taken into consideration, especially the safety of the players, match officials and staff,” she said.
“We are confident the measures in place will allow the matches to be held behind closed doors without detrimental impact.
“We would advise that everyone, wherever they may be watching these fixtures, strongly adhere to the guidance on social distancing.”
She also highlighted that both the clubs, Merseyside Police and public safety experts had provided sufficient evidence that enabled all remaining games for Liverpool and Everton to go ahead at their clubs’ own grounds.
Merseyside derby on free to air TV
The derby will be broadcast free to air, and Merseyside assistant chief constable Rob Carden urged both sets of supporters to enjoy the match on television.
“It is not the role of the police to make operational decisions on the basis of public health,” he said.
“We have been guided by experts and the government. We are still in unprecedented times and there are strong concerns in Merseyside and the wider north-west due to the fact the R-rate here is still higher than in the rest of the country.
“For that reason we would urge supporters to do the right thing – stay at home and keep your family, friends and neighbours safe.”
Meanwhile, Everton have confirmed that Theo Walcott will miss the start of the resumption of the Premier League season after undergoing abdominal surgery.