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Football without us is nothing, so we wait that little bit longer; talk of 'voiding' league in these circumstances is just fanciful.

Byline: BLOOD RED ...with the inside track from anfield Paul Gorst @PTGORST

OR a moment, the unthinkable prospect hung in the balance for Liverpool and their fans.

FAs the march towards a first league title in 30 years appeared ever more inexorable, Reds supporters were gearing themselves up for one of the biggest moments in the club's history.

A 25-point lead at the summit of English football means just a further six are required to lift a first championship since 1990, but an unedifying, deeply unpalatable possibility stood, if only fleetingly, in their way.

With the threat of the coronavirus continuing to grip the planet, football's authorities were eventually pressed into forceful action across Europe.

Champions League games like Valencia's visit from Atalanta were forced behind closed doors, while Manchester United's Europa League hammering of Austria's LASK was also played without the inclusion of fans.

In Italy, where the COVID-19 spread has reached the highest levels on the continent, Juventus' 2-0 win over Inter - a potential titledecider - was played to the backdrop of silence.

Paulo Dybala scored a beauty after Aaron Ramsey's opener and Cristiano Ronaldo - arguably the sport's most recognisable figure - ran around to a turnout usually reserved for Sunday League amateurs.

Desperate times, it seemed, called for desperate measures.

And with the governing bodies of football planning an emergency meeting for Friday morning, Liverpool supporters were presented with the potential of not being present when that most elusive of league titles is finally over the line.

There would have been a surreal sadness that would have accompanied Liverpool's maiden Premier League crowning.

A lifting of the trophy the Reds have craved more than any other over the last 30 years was in danger of being secured in front of precisely zero of their ardent followers.

Six points are of course still required from the final nine games, but even the most one-eyed Liverpool rival has surely conceded the Reds' name is on the trophy.

Those who had spent tens of thousands following their team across the land - and the continent - since their last title were in danger of having to press their noses up to the glass when that big moment finally came.

That, whoever you follow, could not be right. It would be sport existing in its own vacuum, purely for the sake of it. A title crowning with its soul ripped out.

The players themselves were presented with the prospect of seeing their crowning achievement, those career-defining efforts, go rewarded without so much as a single supporter waving a scarf in their direction.

"I think the main thing is football should be played with fans," said Virgil van Dijk this week. "We play also for the fans, the fans pay to come and support us and it is not their decision, it is not our decision.

"The decision is going to be made by the government, Premier League and until that decision is made we just have to wait and see. If the decision is made, accept it."

It would have been a cruel irony that would have made Liverpool supporters exempt from seeing the moment they have prayed for after for a generation.

Thankfully, such a bitter anticlimax won't come to pass, yet. The Premier League will, instead, be suspended for three weekends as it aims to close ranks and reduce the spread of an illness that has already infected Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The aim from all across football right now is to help minimise the risk of further infection from a disease that was officially made into a pandemic by the World Health Organization this week.

"Of course, we don't want to play in front of an empty stadium and we don't want games or competitions suspended, but if doing so helps one individual stay healthy - just one - we do it no questions asked," Jurgen Klopp said on Friday.

The Liverpool boss is correct, of course. Some things, believe it or not, are more important that football.

From a purely sporting perspective, however, talks of a Premier League voiding are surely fanciful.

Try telling Leeds United, the Championship leaders, that they won't be allowed to continue their efforts to get back into the top flight for the first time in over 15 years.

Or West Bromwich Albion in second. Or the rest of the clubs who currently occupy the play-off places. Or the teams who feel they can put together a late run for a spot.

In the top flight itself, good luck breaking the news to third-place Leicester that they won't be in the Champions League next term.

Or Sheffield United or Wolves, both of whom have a genuine chance to break into Europe's premier competition next term.

Liverpool's situation would likely be the least of the Premier League's worries as they fended off stern action from a string of rightly selfinterested parties.

Football, without fans, they say, is nothing. Thankfully Liverpool won't have to find that out the hard way.

Champions Liverpool in 1990 - can you imagine a scene like this 30 years on, and none of us present to see it?
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:BLOOD RED ...with the inside track from anfield Paul Gorst @PTGORST
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 14, 2020
Previous Article:ENDGAME: How will the rest of the season be resolved - if at all? ian doyle examines the five options facing the reds.
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