Neil Humphreys: Don’t take title party away from Liverpool
Reds deserve better than the ultimate, final insult
In football terms, Liverpool have suffered enough without a word of complaint.
When Covid-19 robbed the Reds of the chance to end a historic campaign on their terms, they accepted the situation gracefully.
When the pandemic ensured that any potential title triumph would be stuck with a grubby asterisk, they did not rise to the goading.
When "Project Restart" insisted that remaining games had to be played behind closed doors, the Reds obviously acquiesced.
They have sought to put public health first, even when others didn't.
When dithering authorities forced Liverpool to play their Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid, the Reds fulfilled their obligations despite concerns of hosting a club from a country already ravaged by the coronavirus.
On that fateful night on March 11, lifelong fan Richard Mawson, 70, attended the game. He passed through Spanish supporters to get to his seat. A healthy man, Mawson subsequently fell ill with the virus.
He died a few weeks later.
No one associated with Liverpool is deluded. No one within the community could be accused of putting blind devotion ahead of existing lockdown requirements.
The death toll around Merseyside was and remains comparatively high. The Reds are in no mood to pay lip service to Bill Shankly's sarcastic quote. Perspective isn't a problem.
So why they must be subjected to further indignity is anyone's guess.
To add insult to literal injury, the fragile city may even be denied a chance to see the trophy lifted at Anfield.
According to the authorities, there are 12 English Premier League fixtures that are deemed high risk and may require neutral venues.
Six of them involve Liverpool.
How many times is one club going to be punished?
The Merseyside Derby, a key clash against Manchester City and Liverpool's other four home games have been highlighted as possible fixtures where crowds may congregate outside stadiums.
Once again, fans are being dismissed as blinkered sheep, incapable of independent thought as they trudge along to a deserted Anfield and increase their chances of contracting a deadly virus.
There is nothing to be gained from playing Liverpool's remaining games at neutral venues, beyond confirming longstanding suspicions that a London bias influences major decisions. (Wembley has been touted as a possible venue).
It's hard to know where to begin with such a confusing, contradictory and staggeringly patronising scenario.
To put the illogical thinking into some sort of context, the neutral venue idea assumes that fans are going to leave the comfort of their own homes and stand outside a stadium to cheer a game they cannot see.
More absurdly, the Merseyside Derby is one of many games that will be screened on free-to-air channels in the UK as the panic-stricken EPL races to satisfy all remaining TV and sponsorship commitments.
Why watch a free game with loved ones when you can stare at a steel structure for 90 minutes before returning to those loved ones with the possible "gift" of Covid-19? Never mind the Mexican Wave in the living room. Here comes the second wave in Liverpool.
It's not going to happen, beyond a small, daft minority that may travel to Anfield out of a sense of warped loyalty and a special kind of stupidity usually reserved for those who refuse to wear masks in supermarkets.
But the key, depressing bit is, these people exist everywhere. From Merseyside to Wembley, if you build it, the idiots will come. The venue makes no difference.
So the prospect of such a tiny minority possibly gathering outside Anfield cannot be used to further penalise a club and a community, particularly when the Merseyside Police has raised "no objections" to policing fixtures there.
The EPL is either safe to resume or it isn't. Games can either be played behind closed doors at all home venues or none of them. The Reds are lumbered with enough asterisks. They do not deserve another.
Always the diplomat, manager Juergen Klopp says he doesn't care where his players lift the trophy as long as they lift the trophy. He knows that's a half-truth at best.
Liverpool are two wins away from a title that is already compromised. No crowd, no atmosphere, no lap of honour and no singing that song, each compromise further dilutes what should have been the purest of triumphs.
A neutral venue is a petty and pointless concession too far.
The Reds know they must walk alone. At least let them walk alone at home.