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17 Jun 2020

Behind closed doors cricket at Emirates Old Trafford

As Emirates Old Trafford prepares to host behind closed doors cricket starting in July, we catch up with Events and Project Manager, Sarah McManus, to find out more about how the Operations Team are getting the venue ready.

What does your role involve with behind closed doors cricket?

It’s my job to ensure that from an event perspective, we will be ready to hold a cricket match. As part of my role, I’m responsible for putting up signage around the ground to ensure that new social distancing rules are adhered to.

There’s a lot of planning in terms of making sure the site is ready and what it will look like, as well as considering different procedures in the event of a certain scenario, so it’s important I’m having an open dialogue with stewards. They are the first member of staff that visitors will come into contact with, so I need to make sure I brief them fully in the case of any eventuality.

Another aspect that we need to consider is gate entry and parking. We need there to be the least amount of gates open and make sure that’s communicated so everyone on-site understands where they’re able to access the site from.

Can you describe the level of work that you and the team have had to put in in preparation?

A lot! When you consider that lockdown was enforced back in March and the stadium was just left in a normal state. Over such a short period of time, we’ve had to put a lot of work in to get the stadium to where it is now with new policies and procedures in place. This has involved a lot of discussions and planning with the ECB to get everything in situ.

As an operations team, lockdown hasn’t meant that we’ve been working from home as it’s such a hands on job and the site needs maintaining for when we’re able to open our doors again, even though no one’s been on-site as such. Jobs such as the pitch needing maintaining, the taps need running, toilets need flushing and fire alarms requiring regular testing. The maintenance and grounds department have been working tirelessly to ensure the stadium is ticking over and haven’t had a break!

What protocols has Emirates Old Trafford put in place to make it as safe as possible?

Firstly, we’ve put social distancing measures in place to adhere to Government guidelines. This includes one-way systems for moving around the site and each building, and each door has a notice for the maximum capacity of people allowed in each suite.

Pete Ash has organised a huge cleaning schedule which includes a lot of red dots to indicate touch points and the cleaners are working tirelessly to get us to a point where we can function. As part of this, we’ve segregated an inner and outer zone with the ECB to keep people in certain areas.

PPE is distributed across all departments and in buildings, with hand sanitisers at most entry and exit points.

On top of that, we’re tested each week and have to fill in a health questionnaire two hours before we come to work. On arrival we have our temperature taken and our accreditation is checked.