Arrests made as thousands gather outside Anfield and Elland Road to mark titles

Arrested were made in Liverpool and Leeds as thousands of fans gathered outside Anfield and Elland Road to celebrate their clubs’ title triumphs, despite warnings to stay at home.

Merseyside Police introduced a 48-hour dispersal zone around the ground during the club’s match against Chelsea on Wednesday night – but the force said only nine arrests were made, despite large numbers of supporters congregating outside the Kop end.

A heavy police presence was in force as the Reds celebrated a 5-3 victory and lifted the Premier League trophy for the first time in 30 years.

In Leeds, four arrests were made and a police officer received minor injuries as thousands celebrated United’s return to the Premier League.

Leeds United defended its decision to allow players to appear on an open top bus with the Championship trophy, saying it was hoped the appearance would signal an end to the celebrations and encourage fans to go home.

Ahead of the match in Liverpool, the club, council, police and supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly had urged people to celebrate from their homes.

Former player and manager Sir Kenny Dalglish tweeted: “Can everyone please respect the guidelines and enjoy the moment.

“This is a dress rehearsal for when we can all celebrate together safely.”

Assistant Chief Constable Natalie Perischine, from Merseyside Police, said: “Officers made a total of nine arrests outside Anfield last night for affray, assault, people who were drunk and disorderly and drug-driving.

“The vast majority of the crowd were good-natured and had dispersed by 2am.

“Thankfully we didn’t see the sort of incidents of disorder and criminal damage we saw at the Pier Head on June 27, the investigation into which has seen more than 20 arrests made to date.”

There were no fans inside the ground as the trophy presentation was made, but outside, in Walton Breck Road, crowds erupted into huge cheers as fireworks went off over Anfield.

Fireworks were also set off in the street, along with flares, and fans waved flags and sang as they celebrated into the early hours.

Police officers, who stood in cordons across the road, took flares from some fans but did not stop them joining the crowd.

Liverpool City Council said teams had been in the area early on Thursday morning to clear up the streets and tweeted a video showing discarded cans and bottles left in the area.

Ms Perischine added: “Although the numbers who gathered last night could have been significantly higher, it is still disappointing that people did not listen to requests from ourselves, Liverpool Football Club and Liverpool City Council not to gather in large numbers because of the risks still posed by Covid-19.

Leeds United v Charlton Athletic – Sky Bet Championship – Elland Road
Leeds United players on a bus in front of fans outside Elland Road (Danny Lawson/PA)

Thousands of supporters celebrated outside Anfield last month when the team’s first top-flight title in 30 years was confirmed and huge numbers gathered at the city’s Pier Head the following night, where police reported violent confrontations.

A Leeds United spokesman said: “Following consultation with the SAG (Safety Advisory Group) and (Leeds City) Council, Leeds United arranged for a bus to be parked outside the East Stand reception as a contingency to assist dispersal should a crowd congregate at Elland Road, despite a month-long campaign from the club and supporter groups to encourage supporters to stay at home.”

He said: “The safety group believed that a brief appearance from the players with the Championship trophy would help to signal an end to proceedings, encouraging fans to head home safely.

“In challenging circumstances fan safety has always been our priority.”

Superintendent Jackie Marsh, of Leeds District Police, said the operation outside Elland Road resulted in a total of four people arrested for public order offences.

She said: “One officer received a minor injury which did not require hospital treatment.

“While most of those who gathered did so with good intentions, there were some missiles thrown which resulted in officers having to wear protective equipment.”

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