Regulated by RICS

With our beloved sporting events making their long-awaited comeback this month, one of the big questions teams are faced with is how to implement safe social distancing in their training facilities and stadiums. We look at some of the strategies being rolled out to protect staff and players in the English Premier League, and the aspects sports clubs need to consider to get social distancing right.

The Premier League example

Spreading out across a 50,000 seat stadium and on the pitch might seem like a breeze; but in reality, there are ‘pinch points’ in venues of all sizes which pose problems for maintaining that all-important two metres. Whether it’s football at Old Trafford, or rugby at a local team’s training ground, every sporting venue has communal areas which present their own set of challenges – from the tunnel to the toilets.

Last week, Premier League clubs agreed that stadiums will be split into three zones: red, amber and green. The red zone, consisting of the pitch, technical areas, tunnel and changing rooms, will be the most heavily controlled area, allowing a maximum of 105 essential staff – all of whom will be required to have tested negative for COVID-19 in the past five days. The amber zone encompasses all other areas inside the stadium, and the green zone covers areas outside the stadium (car parks etc.). Social distancing is expected to be observed across all areas.

Although this zoning system provides a helpful starting point for Premier League clubs, the actual logistics of how social distancing will be organised in each zone is still murky, and it will likely fall to each club to decide for themselves how to achieve this. This is the very same challenge that sports clubs across the country are facing too.

How to get it right

In many ways, sports teams returning to the pitch can be likened to companies returning to the office. And the response in terms of working out the physical implementation of social distancing is likely to be much the same too.

Clubs will need to ensure they’ve got an up-to-date picture of their space, including floor plans and area measurements, to provide an accurate basis for distancing plans. Working out effective one-way routes and the number of people that can safely fit into each area, for example, all rely on up-to-date building information. In professional clubs, there will likely be back-room offices for operations staff (events, marketing, facilities etc.) which, if put back into use, will create a need for detailed plans of current and future desking arrangements too.

When it comes to player facilities, clubs will need to consider using their youth team dressing rooms, toilets and showers as overflow space to allow players to social distance. In smaller venues with no secondary changing rooms, it might be necessary to temporarily adapt spaces for different uses, or perhaps draw up rotas to reduce the number of people in the same room at one time.

There’s a lot to think about – even before we begin to tackle the huge question of how and when spectators can return. We provide a full package of advice to help you return to your sporting venue safely and make any changes necessary to get it right, with as little cost as possible. Our measured survey and data capture teams can produce measurements, floor plans and 360 virtual tours of your space, whilst our experienced workspace consultants can work with you to develop a detailed plan for safely returning to the pitch. Having advised on projects at many sports venues, from Stamford Bridge to Sandy Park, we’re well-versed in getting the best out of training grounds and stadiums too. Get in touch with Mark Smith for more information on how we can help.