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Emirates Old Trafford looks to adapt amid COVID-19

Emirates Old Trafford today (Thursday) began hosting the first of its behind-closed-doors Test matches between England and the West Indies, but the Manchester venue is already looking long and hard at how the events industry will evolve amid COVID-19.

Although primarily a cricket stadium, Emirates Old Trafford has become a leading destination for concerts, conferences and other events. Its showpiece concert for the summer of 2020, US rock band The Killers, was due to take place on May 30, but will now be held on June 12 next year.

Its substantial events portfolio also includes TheStadiumBusiness Summit & Venue Technology Showcase, which will take place from September 28-30. Lancashire Cricket’s adjustment to the new COVID-19 reality comes just months after it reported its highest ever annual turnover of £34m (€37.5m/$43m) for the 2019 financial year, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) having risen to a record £7.6m.

The EBITDA represented a tenfold increase since 2015 and was as an all-time record for a first-class cricket county, excluding minority interests and legacy reserves. The club’s net profit was £5m, also a new record.

Commenting on how COVID-19 has impacted on the club and Emirates Old Trafford business models, Angela Hodson, sales director at Lancashire Cricket, told TheStadiumBusiness.com: “Last year we delivered around £8.59m in hotel and conference and events revenue alone. When it got to March, when COVID really hit, everything completely stopped.

“From a ticketing and hospitality point of view, this has completely stopped for the year. For certain games, we know they’re going to be played behind closed doors so we’ve setup a refund scheme, which at the minute has shown good retention in terms of people who’ve moved from the Pakistan Test to the India Test next year.”

For more on this story, head over to our sister site TheStadiumBusiness.

Images: Lancashire Cricket