LANCASHIRE Cricket and Emirates Old Trafford have reacted with excitement to the news that attendance at sporting events and large-scale events will resume this summer.

During Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation, he announced that sporting events will be able to reopen with crowds of 25% capacity on Monday May 17 and large-scale events and performances will be able to go ahead with full capacity from Monday, June 21, subject to government data proving that four key tests are being passed.

The latest roadmap will have a significant impact for Lancashire Cricket, Emirates Old Trafford and on all the Club’s Members and supporters, clients, commercial partners and guests.

The proposed timeline would mean that supporters will be welcomed back to Emirates Old Trafford for the first time for Lancashire’s County Championship Roses clash against Yorkshire, starting on Thursday, May 27.

It would also mean that the Vitality Blast Roses Match at Emirates Old Trafford on Saturday, July 17 is hoped to be played in front of a full house. Tickets for this iconic fixture went on general sale yesterday and are in high demand following significant roll-over from last year. As it stands, a restriction of 25% of total capacity will be in place for a number of Lancashire Lightning’s earlier home Vitality Blast fixtures.

This summer will also see the launch of the ECB’s new competition, The Hundred, on Wednesday, July 21. Under the new roadmap, all four of the Manchester Originals home fixtures at the Emirates Old Trafford will be unrestricted.

Emirates Old Trafford also welcomes Pakistan for an International T20 on Tuesday, July 20 and India for a Test Match on September 10-14.

Lancashire Cricket CEO, Daniel Gidney, said: “It’s the moment that the whole nation has been waiting for - finally there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we are extremely excited that life can return to normal and live events will be back at Emirates Old Trafford. Yesterday’s announcement was fantastic news for cricket fans who will now be able to experience the thrill of watching some of the best cricketers on the planet play at our brilliant venue later this year.

“Whilst we work to the government’s key dates of Monday, May 17 and Monday, June 21, we hope to be able to host Members at Emirates Old Trafford sooner as part of a government pilot programme to provide the data required to confirm the phased reintroduction of fans from May 17. Our experience of successfully hosting behind-closed-door Test Matches last summer, allied to 17 acres we have on site, allows us to safely run large scale volume testing in April and we are hopeful that we can support the government with pilots.

“We believe that most of our Members will have had a vaccine then which can only help. In addition to this we are looking at developing an outdoor café bar to enable visitors to safely attend Emirates Old Trafford when large non-essential retail, zoos, theme parks and large pub gardens re-open on April 12.

“It's also a critical day for Emirates Old Trafford’s events business and we look forward to welcoming guests back for conferences, meetings and events from May 17. We have a considerable number of events already scheduled for the second half of the year and we are delighted that our partners now have certainty these events will take place. We are working closely with the Meetings Industry Association (MIA) to support their advanced plans for pilots in this space as well.

"The announcement will also offer confidence to clients and event bookers who have been waiting for the greenlight from the government before committing to their plans. We expect the 2021 Christmas party season to be extremely busy with businesses desperate to finally be able to bring large numbers of people together.

“We are delighted to have the return of live sport and events confirmed by the government. We’ve been ready to welcome guests back to Emirates Old Trafford since hosting 21 days of International cricket behind-closed-doors in a bio-secure bubble. The learning from this experience has been immense and we’ve looked to share this knowledge with the wider industry and our partners at every opportunity. We’re thrilled that we can now put our collective experience back in to practice ensuring we keep all future visitors to Emirates Old Trafford safe and secure at all times.

“In summary, we praise the government for their comprehensive and detailed plan to support the data driven unlocking of the economy and events attendance. Our experience makes us uniquely placed to develop pilots that aid the safe transition from small crowds gradually increasing back into stadia. Our close geographical proximity to the government’s research project out of Liverpool into volume lateral flow testing also leaves us well placed to be an active partner to support the government to generate the data they desire to enable each of the four stages in the re-opening programme. We also believe that pilots should be re-named as safety preparation events as to better describe the process to enable venues to gear up to 25% capacity from 17 May.”

Despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Emirates Old Trafford hosted an unprecedented 21 days of International cricket behind-closed-doors last Summer. During this period, the Club completely re-wrote its operating procedures, hired a dedicated Covid-19 Officer and administered more than 6,000 Covid-19 tests at the venue.

Following the experience gained from operating a bio-secure bubble, Emirates Old Trafford launched the Safe in One Place campaign to share the knowledge and best practice we gained with the wider events industry. The venue was subsequently recognised for its efforts with its Operations Team being named winning ‘Team of the Year’ by the MIA and also being shortlisted at the Exhibition News Awards in the category of ‘Best Venue Event Safety Plan’.

In addition, Emirates Old Trafford has been bestowed with ‘We’re Good to Go’ Industry Standard by Visit Britain and AIM Secure, which recognises the venues dedication to offering an environment that is healthy and hygienic as well as your commitment to do the very best for both your customers and your staff.