Limited capacity during pandemic means marquee fixture has been reallocated by hosts
Yorkshire’s County Championship clash with Lancashire has been moved from the iconic outground of Scarborough to Emerald Headingley, in the wake of the UK Government’s delay in the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
It had been hoped that the Roses fixture, scheduled to begin on July 11, would have attracted daily crowds in excess of 6,000 fans, given the popularity of Scarborough, or “Scarbados”, as it is colloquially known, due to its seaside location and holiday atmosphere.
However, the date for the lifting of lockdown measures was recently postponed from June 21 to July 19, due to a surge in new variant cases, and following a review of the current government guidance, Yorkshire have determined that Scarborough’s lay-out, including choke points at entries, exits and toilet facilities, renders it unsuitable even for the hosting of 25 percent capacity crowds.
“Firstly we are hugely disappointed to have to make this decision as we truly believed that this fixture would be unaffected,” Mark Arthur, Yorkshire’s chief executive, said.
“We were anticipating over 6,000 spectators each day for what would be a fantastic advert for county cricket. Following the extension of the government’s roadmap, we had hoped that social distancing guidelines would have been eased as the data continued to show encouraging signs.”
Although both Yorkshire and Lancashire were both keen for the contest to go ahead as planned, it transpired – following extensive guidance and a professional ECB externally funded investigation – that the capacity would have had to be reduced to significantly below 2,000.
Such an attendance would have caused a hit to Yorkshire’s coffers, as well as disappointment for the fans who had hoped to attend the marquee fixture of both team’s Championship campaigns.
“After exploring every possible avenue, we had to ensure that as many members as possible could attend the match,” Arthur added. “Staging the match at Scarborough under the current restrictions would leave many of our members disappointed.
“Therefore, we believe that the fairest and most pragmatic decision was to host the match at a venue that has satisfied safety requirements and can comfortably cater for Yorkshire members.
“We are extremely sorry to those who now have the added complications around accommodation, but we wanted to ensure that as many members could attend as possible.”