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Case Study

Behind-Closed-Doors Cricket at Emirates Old Trafford

Behind Closed Doors Cricket: Case Study

We take a look back at what the team at Emirates Old Trafford have achieved whilst hosting behind-closed-doors cricket in a difficult lockdown period, which formed the framework for out Safe in One Place initiative.

  • The Behind-Closed-Doors Story

    How it was done

    In June 2020 – at the height of the global Coronavirus pandemic – Emirates Old Trafford was selected by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) as one of two UK venues that would host a behind-closed-doors Test Match Series against the West Indies.

    This was an unprecedented challenge that would see the venue transform its operational procedures to create a bio-secure environment and host the first elite International sporting competition following the outbreak of COVID-19.

    With pressure on the ECB to salvage the summer’s International Cricket schedule – critical to securing £200 million in broadcast revenues for English cricket in 2020 alone – Emirates Old Trafford became the centrepiece venue within their plan.

    As it became clear during Spring that there’d be little chance of supporters returning for the start of the season, the venue’s Operations Team began preparing for the possibility of behind-closed-doors events and compiled 50-page proposal outlining how the venue could operate a bio-secure bubble.

    This proposal outlined how Emirates Old Trafford would utilise the 150-room four-star Hilton Garden Inn hotel situated within the grounds, plus over 700 car parking spaces and interconnecting bridges, to demonstrate to the ECB how it would create a safe environment for both teams and all stakeholders.

    Emirates Old Trafford staff worked around the clock to implement safety measures across the venue aimed at protecting the 300 plus people – including players, support staff, media, operational and technical teams – who were on-site for every minute of the fixtures. 

    In an eight-week window ahead of the fixtures, the Operations Team completely re-drafted its Risk Assessment documentation and Standard Operating Procedures for all departments.

    The venue’s dedicated COVID-19 officer carried over 100 fresh Risk Assessments outlining, amongst others; rigorous daily deep cleaning measures; PPE provision for all players and staff on-site; social distancing and one-way signage installation; introduction of zoned access areas; ventilation surveys carried out on every room in the venue; increased hand sanitisers at every touch point; provision of temperature checks, health questionnaires and daily COVID-19 testing.

    All internal departments went above and beyond to make the venue secure and comfortable for guests. From catering teams delivering daily menus for all guests, to ground staff preparing the pitch and events teams making sure daily testing protocols were carried out. The objective was clear: ensure that the proper procedures were in place to minimise the risk of infection and enable the Test Matches to be completed.

    To that end, the ECB undertook 702 COVID-19 tests between June 3 and June 23 with several stakeholder groups working at the Test Match venues, with all 702 tests registering as negative.

    Having successfully delivered the two Test Matches against the West Indies, Emirates Old Trafford was entrusted with hosting further fixtures against Pakistan and Australia, meaning a record 21 days of cricket were played at the ground in total this summer.

    Off the back of the Summer’s events, Emirates Old Trafford launched Safe in One Place - a campaign with the goal of helping UK venue operators as the events industry prepares to return. The initiative centred on sharing insights, guidance and best-practice with event operators who underpin a £70bn industry and help them bounce back from the devastating effects of COVID-19.

  • Testimonials


    Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester:

    “We are all very proud of the team at Emirates Old Trafford for the work they have done to turn it into a safe and secure venue. As a city-region, we pride ourselves on the diverse number of major events we host and getting this industry back up and running is of huge importance, because we need to bring people back into our towns and cities to support our local economy.”

    Steve Elworthy, Director of Events at the England & Wales Cricket Board:

    “Everything has been taken into consideration, from the food service, social distancing, flexible spaces, venue access, the hygiene factors with the red dot system to indicate high touchpoints. The level of detail that the team have put in is phenomenal. It will give people confidence that they can step into a venue where there has been every safety precaution taken to keep them safe and secure.”

    Matt Savage, Heineken:

    "We had an excellent stay at the hotel on Sunday. Firstly, we felt very safe, the Covid-19 guidelines where followed to the letter with us not coming into contact with any other guests. Despite the Covid-19 restrictions, the hospitality and experience remained first-class, with the food both delivered to our room and in the restaurant requiring special mention. The hotel is a great example that, in spite of the restrictions of the new world we live in, we can still enjoy the great hospitality that hotels provide and remain safe during our stay."

    Kate Trasler, Visit Manchester:

    "We were both really impressed at the level of planning that has obviously gone into making the hotel a safe yet welcoming space for guests – a difficult balance to achieve – but one that you most definitely did.

    We had a fabulous stay and very much look forward to returning later in the year."

    Jake French, David Lloyd:

    "We had the pleasure of watching Lancashire v Leicestershire at Emirates Old Trafford at the weekend. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel and watched the game from the balcony. The hospitality and service from the moment we arrived was fantastic. We felt very safe and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon."

  • MIA - Team of the Year

    Vote For Our Team

    The achievements of our team at Emirates Old Trafford in delivering behind-closed-doors cricket have been recognised by the Meetings Industry Association (MIA) and shortlisted for their miaList Team of the Year award.

    Voting is now open, click the button below to vote for the Emirates Old Trafford team.


Contact Us: 2021 Availability!

If you want to discuss an event at Emirates Old Trafford, complete the form below and a member of our team will be in touch. 

Given the current climate with COVID-19, we understand that you may have a number of questions and concerns. Our team are here to help and advise you, and we would welcome a discussion with you to talk through any queries and reassure you of the measures we are putting in place. 

We have prime dates available for 2021 and beyond – whether you are looking for a multi-day conference or small meeting space, you can be sure of the signature Emirates Old Trafford touch.

Contact Us