Jurgen Klopp’s record-breaking Liverpool side could be denied what would be their first top-flight league win in three decades if the coronavirus outbreak leads to large-scale game cancellations, according to a UK media report.
Liverpool has amassed a mammoth 22-point lead in the Premier League ahead of second-placed Manchester City and are all but assured of securing the Premier League title in a matter of weeks.
But a report from the UK’s Daily Telegraph has suggested that their inevitable win could be delayed, or even cancelled altogether if the outbreak of COVID-19 forces football authorities to scrap upcoming fixtures.
Cases of coronavirus in the UK have increased to 19 in the past 24 hours with that number set to swell further in the coming days.
And while the Football Association has yet to announce any hindrance to upcoming fixtures, some clubs have begun to institute their own policies to help curb the spread of the virus.
Newcastle United have banned their players from shaking hands while journalists entering a Tottenham Hotspur press conference on Friday were obliged to take mandatory medical tests before being granted entry.
Several football fixtures in Italy – which appears to be the European hotbed of the disease – have been postponed, or played behind closed doors, while Ireland’s upcoming Six Nations rugby encounter with Italy has also been postponed.
The outbreak of the illness, along with the rate with which it is spreading, has led to wholesale speculation about the potential ramifications for sports in the coming months and, per the Telegraph, there is no pre-determined plan in place if the Premier League is forced to cancel upcoming fixtures.
A decision to deny Liverpool the Premier League title would likely cause uproar and lead to crisis talks between the club and league authorities. The issue would be complicated further by whether or not the three teams sitting in the relegation zone at the time of a hypothetical shortening of the season would indeed be relegated.
“We take it very seriously but we can’t avoid everything. It’s not a football problem but a society one,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp ahead of his side’s trip to Watford.
“Hopefully the smarter people find the way to have an answer to it.
“We haven’t been told we cannot play so we will. We take it seriously, but we don’t go crazy with it. We haven’t told anyone not to shake hands, but we don’t force them to do that either. We cannot do more than we are here.”