Around 18000 Spectators Can Watch Edgbaston Test
England and New Zealand will meet from 10 June at Edgbaston in the second match of a two-Test series. The ECB has decided to make the match a pilot event in which they will allow up to 18,000 spectators to watch the match at the stadium. At 70% ground capacity, that is a huge improvement over the expected number that people feared would be restricted to just 25 percent of capacity.
A Huge Step Towards Return to Normal
The ECB’s announcement on Wednesday (26 May) could prove to be a huge step towards a return to normal. The organisers of the Test can be expected to contact spectators and ask them to consent by signing a form before taking a lateral flow test. Spectators will reportedly have to wear masks only when they move around inside the stadium.
Warwickshire Wrote to Government in April
In April, the government reportedly received a letter from Warwickshire, backed by the local mayor and council leaders, containing a request to treat the match at Edgbaston as a “validation event.” At the time, the club at best hoped that attendance of up to about 50 percent capacity would be permitted. Warwickshire have insured themselves for lost revenue and will need to spend substantially to have the correct protocol in place during the game. So, the permission for 18000 spectators granted by the ECB will not imply any sort of financial boost. However, it will be a boost for spectators, players and the region which has suffered financial losses in the past few months. England spent the whole 2020 home summer playing at empty stadiums and the Edgbaston game will be the first home game since the 2019 season to be played before a near-normal crowd size.
Cricket Supporters Association Happy
Becky Fairlie-Clarke, representing the Cricket Supporters’ Association, was quoted as saying to a media outlet, “People have been through a lot over the last year and more. The chance to return to cricket with friends and family will feel like a giant step back towards normality. It really does give us a hope that we are getting through this. I think the entire game will feel like a celebration.”
No Similar Boost for Lord’s
However, Lord’s which is due to host the first Test of the England vs New Zealand series from 2 June will not enjoy any such boost. The Lord’s match will be played in front of about 7,500 spectators every day, amounting to about 25 percent of capacity.
Warcs’ Close Relations with Local Government Helped
Warwickshire have shown what they could achieve thanks to a close relationship with the local government and a willingness to work with local government across the hospitality and travel industries. Both Stuart Cain, the new chief executive of the club, as well as Andy Street, the mayor, can treat the news as something of a victory. The ECB’s decision to let 18000 watch the Edgbaston Test comes in the wake of successful trials at several other events. For instance, the FA Cup final was watched by a crowd of about 20,000 and the World Snooker Championship final attracted around 1,000 spectators. Crowds at several other concerts and gigs have helped add up to about 58,000 people at various events, from which about 15 Covid-19 positive cases were reported.
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