Thousands of jubilant Liverpool supporters have spent the night celebrating the team’s first league title for 30 years, prompting warnings from police concerned about mass gatherings flouting social-distancing rules.
As a huge crowd sang songs and let off flares outside Anfield, Merseyside police assistant chief constable Rob Carden said the region had been “disproportionately affected” by the coronavirus pandemic and its residents had a responsibility to prevent further cases.
Praising fans who kept their revelry to their own homes, Carden said that others had not stuck to the Covid-era regulations.
“Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout the lockdown period, not everyone adhered to the regulations in place,” he said. “Although the vast majority of celebrations were good natured, a large number of people chose to gather outside the stadium.”
Earlier, about 100 fans gathered outside the Main Stand at Anfield for when the final whistle blew on Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Manchester City, securing Liverpool the title for the first time since 1990 with seven games to spare.
Jürgen Klopp, the charismatic German coach who has led the team to the title, gave a tearful television interview after the Chelsea victory was confirmed, calling it an “incredible moment”.
Club legend and former manager Kenny Dalglish said “we’ve got a lot more happy days to come as long as Jürgen’s there”, and his former teammate Graeme Souness told Sky: “This is a special team. This is a team that nobody enjoys playing against… They give everything … when you combine that effort and the quality they have… they’re some team.”
Fireworks went off all around the city and fans waved flags and sang: “We’ve gone and won the league.”
Within an hour of the result, thousands of fans had gathered outside the stadium, lighting red flares and joining in the singing. People, with children and dogs, continued to make their way across Stanley Park to get to the stadium.
Many fans were seen hugging and one man stood with his arm around a cardboard cut out Klopp. Others carried flags and scarves while some fans brought crates of beer.
Many fans wore face masks for the gathering and shortly before 11pm, police announced road closures would be put in place. Officers could be seen in the area as fans celebrated but no attempts were made to disperse the good-natured crowd.
Liverpool city council told fans to “have a great party” but maintain social distancing as they celebrated.
The Premier League restarted earlier this month after pausing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with games now played behind closed doors.
Several celebrities posted celebrations online after Thursday night’s result secured the title for Liverpool, including the former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
Comedian and Liverpool fan John Bishop tweeted: “Not how any of us would have planned it but thank you to those players and staff who have taken us back to the top.”
Liverpool fan and NBA star LeBron James celebrated the win by tweeting: “Premier League Champions!!! Let’s go!”
Asst Chief Const Carden urged fans mark to the occasion safely. “In the days ahead, we urge supporters to do the right thing and celebrate safely with members of your household and in your social bubble.
“By doing this you keep yourself, your family, friends and neighbours safe.”