The Press

Klopp baffled by UK Government’s crowd limits stand


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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