Virgil Van Dijk: I’d be gutted for fans if Liverpool win title in empty stadium

By PA Sport Staff
PA Media: Sport

Virgil Van Dijk has admitted he fears being forced to lift Liverpool’s first Premier League crown in an empty stadium as a result of the ongoing restrictions imposed by the coronavirus crisis.

All top-flight matches have been postponed until at least next month and the Premier League is set to meet on Thursday to discuss potential next steps.

Liverpool are currently 25 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City in the table and Van Dijk told several national newspapers: “If we won it in an empty stadium and the fans weren’t there, I’d be gutted for them.

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Virgil Van Dijk would be ‘gutted’ for the fans if Liverpool win the Premier League title behind closed doors (Mike Egerton/PA)
Virgil Van Dijk would be ‘gutted’ for the fans if Liverpool win the Premier League title behind closed doors (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Obviously, if there are no fans at Anfield, then it will be a bit of a blow – no one wants to play games without the fans.

“Until a decision is made on how we go on from here, then we just have to deal with it. But when it happens, we are still bringing the title to our fans, definitely.”

Sport is expected to be subjected to further restrictions next week with Prime Minister Boris Johnson set to announce a blanket ban on major public gatherings.

Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay became the first LaLiga player to announce that he has tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday.

Garay revealed the news on his Instagram account, writing: “I’ve tested positive for the coronavirus, I feel great and now all that’s left is to listen to the health authorities. For the moment, I have to be isolated.”

Following Garay’s announcement, Valencia issued a statement confirming that five positive cases have been detected among members of the first team and club staff.

The Spanish club added that affected individuals are “all in their homes in good health, and under isolation measures”.

Spain is set to step up its bid to combat the spread of the virus by putting the entire country in lockdown from Monday. All LaLiga matches have already been suspended for at least two weeks.

The sporting programme has once again been decimated on Sunday, although among the events still set to go ahead are the Super League match between Castleford and St Helens, the Olympic boxing qualifiers in London, and snooker’s Gibraltar Open, which is continuing behind closed doors.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Stuart Broad praised the decisive action of the England and Wales Cricket Board in abruptly calling off England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka on Friday.

Broad wrote: “The NBA was called off, the Melbourne Grand Prix was called off, golf’s Players Championship was called off.

“Suddenly, it was like ‘wow.’ These major worldwide events were being postponed and there was a feeling within our group that we ought to think about where we stood.

“Thankfully it did not come to that. The call came from the top, whether from Tom Harrison, or Ashley Giles, or others in the hierarchy at the ECB.

“They made a very tough but necessary decision and credit to them for putting the players and the fans first.”

This weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled (David Davies/PA)
This weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled (David Davies/PA)

The coronavirus outbreak continues to affect the Formula One calendar, with the Dutch Grand Prix, scheduled for May, due to be the next one to be postponed, the PA news agency understands.

In addition, Ferrari announced a cessation of production at their Maranello and Modena factories until at least March 27.

Leeds Rhinos said they would conduct all media previews ahead of Friday’s scheduled Super League match against St Helens by telephone. The Rhinos postponed their trip to Catalans Dragons this weekend after one of their players showed symptoms of the virus. The player later tested negative.

Confusion reigned in football’s National League, where five matches were postponed on Saturday but six took place as scheduled.

The National League released a statement on Saturday evening in which officials promised to “provide a further update in due course”.

However despite the chaos being caused to the global sporting schedules, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his intention on Saturday that this summer’s Tokyo Games will continue “without a hitch”.

At a press conference reported by Kyodo News, Abe said: “We hope to overcome the spread of infections first and foremost and hold the Olympics as planned without a hitch.”

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