Senior figures in English cricket are pushing for the return of capacity crowds from next month by offering to deploy COVID-status certification.
According to a report in the Daily Mail newspaper, the sport’s working group, which features Lancashire CCC chief executive Daniel Gidney, proposes attendances of up to 30,000 fans, or half a stadium’s capacity, whichever is larger, from June 21. That is the date that the Government has indicated could see the end of social distancing rules under step 4 of its roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions.
With 30,000-capacity Lord’s the largest cricket venue in the country, the working group’s proposal would mean full houses at all English and Welsh grounds for international and domestic games.
The group of senior county cricket executives, which is liaising with the England Cricket Board (ECB) over the safe return of crowds, believes the capacity limit would mean maximum numbers inside stadiums, where behaviour even without social distancing can be regulated, but also that local transport would not be overwhelmed when larger arenas are used for other sports events.
Gidney told the Daily Mail that cricket chiefs “are happy to have covid certification” as a condition of ensuring social distancing rules do not apply after June 21.
“We believe the combination of a recognition of the impact on local [transport] networks in terms of the volume of people plus covid certification is a reasonable approach to take to support 100 per cent in stadiums post June 21,” Gidney added.
“We are saying we could also have an emergency handbrake based on… local infection rates. It gives scientists a ‘get out of jail free pass’ if infection rates climb. I think that is pragmatic and gives us room to manoeuvre.”
The Daily Mail reports that cricket chiefs have called for the proposal to be tested at the England-New Zealand Test match at Edgbaston on June 10.
The Events Research Programme (ERP) has been trialling the return of fans since last month, with a full house at the World Snooker Championships final at The Crucible in Sheffield and 8,000 fans at the Carabao Cup final at Wembley. Up to 10,000 people are allowed to attend outdoor events from May 17, although the Government has committed to 22,500 at Wembley for the Euro 2020 group stage matches. The Football Association is reportedly aiming for at least 50-per-cent capacity at Wembley for the latter stages, which would mean 45,000 fans, for those games.
Last month, senior figures from across the UK’s live events and music industry urged the Government to progress the deployment of COVID-status certification to support full reopening of events from June.
Ticketmaster UK, See Tickets, AEG Europe and Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) were among the dozens of signatories to a statement in support of COVID-status certification as a “temporary measure” and “pragmatic solution” enabling events to resume at commercially viable attendance levels.
Earlier this year, Gidney said he expects a roaring 20s for live events as sports, music and entertainment fans prepare to return to venues.