Liverpool renting out Deepdale shows the huge divide between the Premier League and the Championship but it could be to Preston North End's gain
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That is, PNE will have no part in the fixture – except for allowing the Merseyside club to use their pitch and their ground. Anfield is currently under construction and therefore cannot be used by, what would be, the home side.
It’s just not possible for them to be involved, even if they wanted to be, given that the Championship season starts two days prior (three if you include the Friday night TV game).
PNE are a club with a long and storied history, founding members of the Football League, the first ever English champions, Invincibles and the first to win both the league and FA Cup. It is a name that is widely respected in the game and Deepdale has long been their home. They will be renting it out for a day so another side can get a bit of practice in before their season starts. On that front, it can seem a little beneath North End to allow Liverpool to borrow their ground.
They’re a big club in their own right, they’re in the top half of the second tier, but this is more an indication of the gulf that still remains. Liverpool are a global entity.
Preston opting to rent out their ground for a day, after Liverpool’s request, is a failing of the English game that there can be such disparity of funds that the Reds can pay to do so but also that it could make a big difference to the way Preston’s season could pan out.
Are PNE not the fools should they let their pride get in the way of potentially helping them win more games this season? It is a one off game that will be over in a flash, by the time winter comes around and there are games twice a week, that one day where Liverpool used Deepdale for a friendly will be so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things and to many a North End fan, completely unremarkable.
What could be consequential however is continuing to improve on already good relations between the Lilywhites and one of the world’s biggest clubs. There is an abundance of talent coming out of the Reds’ academy and if just one game, on one day, that likely will cause no problems for PNE – who were given an away game to start last season and could also be drawn away from home in the Carabao – means they are able to get an up and coming star, it’s worth it.
Just down the road, Tyler Morton started 30 times for Blackburn Rovers as they missed out on a play-off place by goal difference. The last time a Liverpool loanee came to Deepdale he walked away with the Young Player of the Year award.
I can understand why some supporters may not like the idea but if PNE are having to do everything they possibly can to get ahead of others, or to try and at least gain ground, then this is a method, without selling players, of generating funds. Who knows, some of the Preston based Liverpool fans – I believe there might just be a few – might even be tempted to come back to Deepdale to see a proper side...