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BBC Radio Interview: Our CEO on UK’s Test Events

Fan enters stadium 972x376 px_2

Our CEO Paul Foster recently spoke live on BBC Radio London about organising safe events, including the approach major sports stadiums are taking. The discussion centred on the UK test events, which will feature vaccine checks and covid tests.   

Speaking to BBC Radio presenter Jason Rosam, Paul explained how large venues – such as OnePlan customer Arsenal FC – are well suited for the test events and how to build on learnings from last year. “Test events are going to be really important for people to get back into venues. A lot of people are looking at them as the way back in.” 

Some of the Premier League teams … are well prepared to get everything back up and running.”

He continued, “Some of the Premier League teams did have games last Autumn so they’re well prepared to get everything back up and running. Stadiums are one of the first test event venues that can get up and running because they’re outdoor events and they have a fair bit of space.” 

The UK test events will mean a changed fan experience

OnePlan has worked with a number of English Premier League teams on their Seating Plan Assessment including Arsenal, Chelsea and Wolves – as well as the Brooklyn Nets NBA team in USA. These clubs benefit from our seating assessment model which can be continually adjusted to take account of ticket sales, and optimises a venue’s seating capacity while adhering to social distancing regulations. 

What sports fans attending football matches and other events will need to experience in this new norm isn’t too dissimilar to other changes implemented in recent years. Now fans, at Wembley stadium and other venues, will likely need to accept vaccine checks and covid tests on arrival. Talking about the fan experience, Paul said, “Many years ago we didn’t have to go through security screening archways and have our bags checked, but now that’s common practice at major events. 

“There are similarities here where, although it’s a different process, we need to understand how people behave and make sure the messaging to people is clear. So that we don’t cause crowds by putting something else in place with a big queue of people close together at the entrance of the stadium.”

Lots of small improvements can make for better events

When planning outdoor events to be covid-safe, it will be key for event organisers to consider specific ways in which the attendee experience can be managed throughout an event. For UK outdoor event planners, The Purple Guide’s latest guidance provides a recommendation on measures that can be taken. OnePlan’s social distancing toolkit includes the ability for event organisers to design entrance and arrival areas for vaccine checks and covid tests, as well as other factors once a fan or event attendee has entered. 

“I think It’ll be a lot of smaller measures that will make the difference. Things like one-way flows. Another idea is at half-time of a football match, rather than it being 15 minutes do we make it 20 minutes? Everyone wouldn’t be rushing to the bathroom or getting a beer at the same time.”

A lot of smaller measures will make the difference, for example one-way flows.”

“Remember we had pilots last year and there were some really good learnings from that. A lot of people have been up and running doing events, so we’ve got to take learnings from what we’re doing already.” 

You can listen to Paul’s interview with Jason Rosam here (UPDATE: this is now no longer live as it’s over 1 month since the broadcast) at 1hr 19 mins, 45 seconds into the show.

To learn more about using OnePlan to create safe outdoor events, see our Social Distancing page for covid-safe events. Or see more here about OnePlan’s Seating Assessment to ensure optimal ticketing and seating capacity for your venue.

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