American Football

Potential Premier League return splits fans amid crisis

Before the coronavirus pandemic brought the Premier League season to an abrupt pause, Liverpool were just two wins away from winning English football's top prize — their first league title in 30 years.But as the Premier League examines ways of restarting the season, a potential resumption of the current campaign is bitterly dividing fans."All those celebrations we had planned, those drinks with friends and the hugs and kisses that we imagined when it finally got confirmed, we've had to wait on that now and obviously we're going to have to think about it in different terms," Liverpool fan and co-founder of The Anfield Wrap Gareth Roberts told CNN Sport."But I still think it would be a huge thing for Liverpool to finally win it and, like any Liverpool fan, I'd like to see that confirmed."READ: 30 years of dreaming: Liverpool's agonizing wait for English football's biggest prize

Safety first

There have been 172,481 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom with 26,842 deaths, according to latest figures. A number of Premier League teams have had multiple members of their squad test positive for the virus. So whilst he is desperate to see a return of action, Roberts doesn't want the health and safety of others to be compromised as a result. He accepts the dream of watching his team lift the trophy in front of a packed Anfield Stadium is a long way from fruition, with any return inevitably to be played behind closed doors. But Roberts knows just how important football is to the community and says watching the games on television will still bring some much welcome relief. "For me, it's an issue around integrity. Football means so much to people and they put so much into it," added the 43-year-old. "If you suddenly strip that away, I think a lot of people would find that hard to deal with."I actually think a lot of people would walk away from the game if you said Liverpool are not going to have the chance to win the title now."Liverpool fans let of smoke flares as their team coach arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City at Anfield on November 10, 2019.READ: From Senegal to superhero, but Sadio Mane's story isn't a fantasy

'Bonkers' to rush back

However, the mood at the other end of the Premier League table is very different. Newly-promoted Norwich City has struggled in the top flight this season and is anchored ominously at the foot of the table — needing a major turnaround in form to avoid relegation. For Jack Reeve, founder of the Talk Norwich City podcast, football means relatively little in the context of the crisis and, on balance, he would prefer the season to be abandoned, describing any return at the moment as "bonkers." "We haven't got a vaccine, the deaths aren't going down that much and we're still planning on bringing the season back. It just seems ludicrous to me," Reeve told CNN Sport.Like Roberts, Reeve says safety in the stadiums is paramount to any return to action but, unlike Roberts, he says football behind closed doors is not a prospect he's looking forward to. "I think people would much prefer sports to return in a safe capacity, rather than being rushed back," he said, admitting it would be tough to take if Norwich was relegated without having the chance to finish the season."I want the fairest possible outcome but, unfortunately, I don't think there is a particularly fair outcome unless the season continues and I don't think that's a particularly wise move either."READ: Thiery Henry talks about the coronavirus pandemic

'Central pillar to your life'

Earlier this week UK lawmaker Oliver Dowden said: "I have been in talks with the Premier Read More – Source