Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins is fearing crowd trouble if the football season restarts with games behind closed doors.
The government has given Premier League officials the green light to complete the 2019/20 season, with plans to play the first set of fixtures in mid-June.
But GMP’s senior officer has said the police are concerned fans will congregate outside stadiums on match days – especially in the case of “tricky fixtures” such as local derbies.
“Liverpool coming to Manchester City I have no doubt would attract crowds whether they’re allowed in the ground or not,” said Hopkins.
He continued: “What we’re fearful of is that people will turn up either at neutral grounds or at home grounds, and some of that could be particularly problematic.
“I’m not saying from a policing perspective it would be impossible to police because clearly it wouldn’t – we police hundreds of thousands of people in normal circumstances at events right across Greater Manchester.”
12 June was set as a provisional date for the return of the Premier League, but many fear this may come too soon as officials attempt to navigate countless safety issues.
Tackling is being banned in training sessions, pitches are being thoroughly disinfected, and testing is set to be administered twice a week, but several footballers – including Man City stars Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling – have expressed reservations about playing in the current climate.
Mayor Andy Burnham has also weighed in, commenting that players’ views “should be taken as priority when it comes to any restart.”