The Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton in 11 days' time will be held at Goodison Park after receiving the necessary permission from a safety standpoint.
The game will still be played behind closed doors, as will be the new normal in the Premier League for the rest of this season at least, but Everton confirmed that it will not be moved to any of the proposed neutral venues following a decision from the local Ground Safety Advisory Group.
Neutral venues have been a major talking point in the ‘Project Restart’ debate in recent weeks. And while the majority of confirmed fixtures would go ahead at their intended venues, the Merseyside derby on 21 June was still awaiting confirmation as to where it would be played.
There had been fears that games of significant magnitude could see fans gather in large groups outside stadiums. The Merseyside derby, which has the potential for Liverpool to win a first league title in 30 years should Manchester City drop points against Arsenal a dew days earlier, is one.
To make things more complicated, the north west of England has the UK’s highest coronavirus infection rate. It is therefore a matter of public health in addition to policing, all of which was considered prior to permission to play it at Goodison being granted.
Journalist Rob Harris has additionally reported that Liverpool have been granted permission from local authorities to play all remaining home games this season at Anfield, meaning the club will in all probability win their first-Premier League title in the city.
The Athletic had reported on four alternative venues being up for consideration where the Merseyside derby could haven been played instead. The leading contender was Southampton’s St Mary’s stadium, which is just over 230 miles from the centre of Liverpool by road.
The other options were Wembley, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the King Power Stadium.
If Manchester City beat Arsenal in what will be the second game of ‘Project Restart’ on 17 June, it will mean that Liverpool cannot win the title against Everton and would have to wait for another few days until facing Crystal Palace on 24 June to have a chance to mathematically wrap things up.