The Press

Klopp baf­fled by UK Gov­ern­ment’s crowd lim­its stand

- Sports · Soccer · Soccer Business · United Kingdom · Liverpool Football Club · Jürgen Klopp · Everton · Everton F.C. · London · Southampton F.C. · West Bromwich Albion F.C. · West Bromwich · Leicester City F.C. · Burnley F.C. · Burnley · Liverpool

Liver­pool man­ager Ju­r­gen Klopp ex­pressed in­credulity this week at po­ten­tial lim­its on crowds of just 2000 at Premier League grounds as he launched a fresh at­tack on the UK Gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the pan­demic.

The Premier League cham­pi­ons, Ever­ton, the Lon­don clubs, Southamp­ton and Brighton ap­pear to have the best chances of hav­ing lim­ited crowds back when the UK Prime Min­is­ter con­firms his new three-tier sys­tem.

Klopp sug­gested he did not think the plan had been ‘‘thought through’’ as he also dis­missed claims of any un­fair ad­van­tage for clubs who get fans in.

All clubs in the top tier are ex­pected to wel­come back fans where pos­si­ble, de­spite some es­ti­mat­ing they will still lose mil­lions in rev­enue for ev­ery home match.

Even smaller top-tier clubs, such as Brighton, are ex­pect­ing a

£1 mil­lion-plus (NZ$1.9m) dent in their fi­nances for ev­ery home match, even if they are al­lowed

4000 fans back for their match against Southamp­ton on De­cem­ber 5.

The an­nounce­ment from the UK Gov­ern­ment on which re­gions face the tough­est re­stric­tions from De­cem­ber 2 is likely to cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant dis­par­ity among clubs.

The likes of West Bromwich Al­bion, Le­ices­ter City and Burn­ley are in ar­eas with sig­nif­i­cantly less favourable Covid-19 R-rates, but Klopp shrugged off the sug­ges­tions that this would give teams with fans an edge.

Daily Tele­graph anal­y­sis shows home fans make just a mar­ginal dif­fer­ence in re­sults even with full crowds. Since lock­down, wins for home teams have fallen by less than three per­cent­age points.

‘‘I don’t think it’s un­fair, it’s just the sit­u­a­tion,’’ Klopp said. ‘‘It’s the world at the mo­ment and we can­not change these kinds of things.’’

Liver­pool would ap­pear most likely to fall into tier two, which would have a limit of 2000 fans. Only tier-one ar­eas will be al­lowed 4000 from De­cem­ber 2. How­ever, the Ger­man, who saw fans re­turn in big­ger num­bers in the Bun­desliga in Septem­ber, ques­tioned the logic be­hind the Gov­ern­ment’s num­bers.

‘‘I strug­gle to put faith in any kind of an­nounce­ment,’’ Klopp said. ‘‘And I don’t un­der­stand why we would now have 2000 peo­ple in a sta­dium of 60,000, and 2000 peo­ple in a sta­dium of 9000.’’

The Premier League club with the best chance of earn­ing tier-one sta­tus ap­pear to be Brighton, who yes­ter­day had a weekly in­fec­tion rate of 103 per 100,000 com­pared to

177 the pre­vi­ous week.

Paul Bar­ber, the club’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said all teams can write off the prospect of turn­ing a profit. ‘‘We’re go­ing to be con­tribut­ing to our al­ready very sig­nif­i­cant losses,’’ he said. Ad­di­tional Covid

19 pro­to­cols at most clubs have cost in ex­cess of £100,000 too, but clubs say it is im­pos­si­ble to put an ex­act fig­ure on over­all match day op­er­at­ing costs.

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