HOW football fans will be able to safely access stadiums when lockdown restrictions ease is a challenge being met by solutions experts.
Eco, which came to the nation’s aid by delivering one million items of PPE to UK care homes in seven days, is focused on how to get sports fans back into grounds.
The English Premier League and the Championship are due to restart on June 17 and June 20 respectively - but all matches will be behind closed doors.
Scottish football is hoping to start the 2020/21 season in August.
Some lower and non-league clubs in England have said that, due to gate receipts being key to their revenue streams, finding a way of getting fans safely back into grounds is a priority issue for them to financially survive the 2020/2021 season.
It’s not just football. Test Match cricket is due to be played in front of no supporters when England host a three-match series against the West Indies in Southampton and Manchester next month. And Premiership Rugby in England has announced it plans to restart its season on August 15, again behind closed doors.
While sports supporters will be able to watch much of the action on television, many
feel only when fans are allowed back into stadiums will sport truly be back.
With that in mind, Eco believes it has found the answer to helping get fans back into grounds and is in discussion with two professional football clubs to test its technology.
The solutions experts have applied their thinking and technologies to ensure football grounds, along with other sports stadia and concert venues, are able to ensure they are operating a virus-free environment so crowds can be welcomed back.
Eco, which is based in Scotland and Cumbria, has assembled a full range of contamination control technologies including hygiene portals, testing pods, thermal imaging cameras, biometric face recognition, pre-book scanning systems, and pop- up polytunnels, complete with club colours and crests, to channel the correct flow of people in a one-way crowd control system on the approach to stadiums.
Eco is in discussion with English League Two side Carlisle United, and Scottish League Two side Annan Athletic, about testing the technologies at their grounds, before they roll out their solutions to other football clubs and stadiums across the UK and beyond.
Eco managing director Eddie Black said: “Our solution is to do everything feasible to prevent a virus from getting into a stadium.
“We are looking at long-term, flexible solutions which will provide contamination control and peace of mind.
“We will achieve this with a combination of future-proof and adaptable technologies situated outside grounds.”
Eddie explained that making sure the technologies are affordable, and value for money, for football clubs and other organisations is also key.
“The health and well-being of people is our number one priority and anyone running a football club, or any business, knows they are going to have to spend some money to ensure they are doing everything they can to provide a safe environment.
“I also know that they want to put in a solution which is future-proofed so they only have to spend the money once.”
Eddie explained how the technologies, including thermal imaging cameras, testing kits, testing pods and hygiene portals, work together to help keep people safe.
He said: “The first line of defence are thermal imaging cameras situated at a location outside the ground which can detect someone’s temperature
“If the camera picks up a high temperature then that person would need to go to a nearby testing pod.
“Tests will be carried out at the pod and the results will be available within 15-20 minutes.
“If a person tests positive they will have to comply with all government and public health restrictions which are in place at that time, such as self isolating.
“People who test negative, or who aren’t picked up as having a temperature by the camera, will then proceed to the entrance. But before they get into the ground they will enter a final sanitisation stage.
“They will walk up to a hygiene portal which will have a touchless hand sanitiser dispenser which will also activate a fine sanitising mist when people walk through, which will also have a tray to ensure the soles of people’s shoes are sanitised.
“Then fans will be able to continue into the ground knowing that they and fellow supporters have all gone through the same processes to help keep everyone safe.”
Eco is building its own state of the art, 3,000-square-metre headquarters for 80 employees at Annan, where Eddie is deploying the technologies to protect the health and well-being of his own team.
He plans to use all the technologies outside the building, as well as keyless entry, intercomms, and antivirus coverings on furniture, to help keep any virus at bay.
Eddie said: “We can reduce the risk massively if we use all these technologies. It’s all about looking after people, and making sure people are as safe as possible.”
Eco’s emergency rapid response solutions division has already helped the nation in its time of need.
As well as delivering one million items of PPE to UK care homes within a week, its sanitising solutions have been helping a UK factory, making material for visors for the NHS, keep operating 24/7.
Any organisation or business which would benefit from Eco’s help is asked to contact 01461 500 206 or email email@example.com or visit www.teameco.co.uk for