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Edgbaston confirms increased capacity for 2020 Major Matches

•    Over 56,000 tickets sold for West Indies Test match, the highest sales volume ever compared to the same point for any non-Ashes Test match at Edgbaston
•    Vitality Blast Finals Day sold out in under three weeks and before general sale
•    Ireland ODI ticket sales up 90% at the same date compared to the last ODI at Edgbaston against Sri Lanka in 2016
Birmingham’s Edgbaston Stadium has confirmed that it will increase its capacity for next summer’s Major Matches.
Following the announcement that Vitality Blast Finals Day has sold out earlier than ever and that the club has received record demand for tickets for a non-Ashes Test match, Edgbaston will once again be installing an 840-seat temporary stand for use across England’s Test match against West Indies and ODI versus Ireland, plus Finals Day.
The installation will make Edgbaston the UK’s largest cricket stadium outside of London with the new release of tickets that went on sale at 10 am on Monday 28 October.
In a 2019, which saw record crowds at Edgbaston and around the country, tickets for 2020 have sold in record numbers, with sales up over four times compared to the same point for the club’s previous fastest-selling non-Ashes Test, against India in 2018.
Vitality Blast Finals Day, meanwhile, sold out within just three weeks of this summer’s showpiece event and before tickets went on general sale. The event had previously sold out in May for the 2019 edition.
Alex Perkins, Head of Commercial at Edgbaston Stadium, said: “2019 was a truly record-breaking year for cricket on and off the field and I’m sure this summer will live long in all sports fans memories.
“Attendances, viewing figures and engagement rose significantly and we’re delighted to have seen that impact at Edgbaston.
“We’re very proud to host the biggest games at Edgbaston and we’re delighted to welcome the world champions back to a ground where they’ll have very fond memories.”
For the first time, Edgbaston ran a public ballot for all its Major Matches in 2020 to provide cricket supporters from across the country the best chance to secure tickets and fairly manage the growing demand.
So far, Edgbaston has sold over 83,000 tickets across the three Major Matches, a record number for the same point in any previous year at Edgbaston.
Perkins added: “We’ve worked extensively to create a fair and balanced pathway to purchase tickets.
“Operating a ballot process with advanced priority windows not only helps reward our existing and loyal supporter base who regularly purchase tickets at Edgbaston, but also enables new supporters to see some of the world’s best cricket in Birmingham.
“With demand for Finals Day greater than ever before and tickets selling incredibly well for the West Indies Test and Ireland ODI, it’s set to be another fantastic summer at Edgbaston.”
Edgbaston will first host England’s Test match against West Indies from Friday 12 to Tuesday 16 June, before the world champions return to Birmingham for an ODI on Saturday 12 September. Vitality Blast Finals Day will be held on Saturday 5 September.
Tickets for all Major Matches at Edgbaston can be purchased online at tickets.edgbaston.com or over the phone by calling 0121 369 1994.
Hospitality, from official providers Keith Prowse, is also available for all seven days of Major Match cricket at Edgbaston in 2020.



 

Southampton FC appoints Mediacells to drive digital transformation

Mediacells Limited and Southampton Football Club have announced an agreement to develop a single source social media analytics platform to deliver compelling content that retains and acquires fans.
Premier League Southampton FC has appointed performance analytics agency Mediacells to support the continuing transformation of their digital output.
The data-driven agency has been tasked with providing Southampton near-live social media dashboards for all fan-related content.
The performance analytics capability will provide the Saints with a 360-degree, near-live view of fan, commercial and partner content so that output can be optimised, with innovation and relevance front and centre.
Mediacells will aid innovation through the implementation of Intelligent Feeds which convert Southampton FC’s data into dashboard visualisations that the team can act on.
The dashboards will optimise content performance and empower Saints’ media and research teams to take decisions based on consistent data from a single source.
Jack Walkling, Head of CRM, Data & Analytics at Southampton Football Club, said:
“As a club, we take great pride in our digital output, and it’s important to us that what we produce, the stories we tell and how we tell them resonates with our fans.
Access to actionable data quickly is key to allowing us to make informed decisions about our content and distribution strategy.
Mediacells has cutting edge experience with the biggest football tournaments and Federations in the world. We’re excited to be collaborating with them and look forward to gaining a far deeper insight into how our supporters are engaging with our digital output.”
Brad Rees, Chief Executive Officer at Mediacells, commented:
“Southampton are in the top flight of football and they are sophisticated digital leaders. Mediacells will use its expertise in performance analytics to empower the team and push the boundaries of relevant, targeted authentic content that resonates with fans, partners and sponsors in an increasingly competitive content space.”


 

A Skills And Recruitment Time Bomb

The footballing achievements of England’s Lionesses and the men’s one day cricket team may have inspired another generation of players this summer and with sports participation – by all ages and abilities – being encouraged on a national scale, the demand for safe, natural turf pitches is set to increase. However, recent independent research by the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) has identified concerning facts that will impact on the opportunities to play sport on well-maintained natural turf pitches.
Research findings highlight the fact that the number of young people embarking on a career in groundsmanship is in decline – and with over 40% of the workforce over the age 50, this is a worrying trend. The report also shows that investment is urgently needed in adequate training and education to ensure groundscare professionals and volunteers are able to maintain safe, quality standard pitches to allow for increased demand for sports participation now and in the future.
As a result of these findings, the IOG has launched the Grounds4Sport campaign that calls on Government, sports bodies and industry to work together to bring about change, and to invest in natural turf pitches and the people who maintain them.
Grounds4Sport (visit www.iog.org for more details) is targeted to give natural turf sports provision the re-boot it needs. The campaign will work to create:
•    Better pitches
•    More investment
•    More and better trained and qualified groundspeople
•    Raise the status of the profession.
According to the findings of the IOG’s industry-wide survey ‘Groundsmanship – Sports Vital Profession’, the UK sports turf groundscare sector employs more than 26,000 people, is supported by at least 37,000 volunteers and is worth more than a staggering £1 billion a year to the economy. But the research also highlights areas of concern that, if not addressed, are a ticking time bomb for the industry.
“Local authority austerity and budget cuts have had, and continue to have, a damaging effect on grassroots grass pitches,” says the IOG’s chief executive Geoff Webb. “The steady deterioration in the quality and the overplay of many pitches is impacting on the playing programmes of some sports,” he adds.
The research findings show that two of every five grounds professionals are over 50 years old and 20% of those could retire within five years. With less than one in five groundscare staff below the age of 30 and our discovery that some employers are choosing not to recruit new, replacement staff when an existing member leaves or retires, we have a crisis looming,” says Geoff.
He continues: “The time bomb issue doesn’t just apply to professionals. Our research identified that over two thirds of community grounds volunteers are over 60 and almost all are over 50. We applaud the commitment of these volunteers, and we are grateful of the support of our partners The Football Association, the Football Foundation and the England & Wales Cricket Board, but volunteers need more help, support and training.”
These are just some of the revelations from the IOG’s research which also reveals that the turf industry (in England and Wales alone) plays a significant role in the economy with:
•    A direct staffing paybill (including on-costs) of around £588 million plus the volunteers’ in-kind paybill of more than £120 million;
•    An operating budget (including grassroots and local government contractors) of around £478 million;
•    A capital expenditure of around £600 million over the past five years; and
•    Supports almost 5,000 businesses which employ at least 37,000 people.
Conducted by Myriad Consulting and Doran Consultancy, the comprehensive survey involved desktop research (including Sport England’s Active Places database and information from sports’ national governing bodies), in addition to an online survey and one-to-one interviews across sports played on grass/artificial surfaces, as well as horse racing.
It involved grounds staff/greenkeepers (professionals and volunteers) at all levels, from grassroots through to elite stadia. Responses were also attained from the education sector including colleges and local authorities.
Geoff Webb again: “The research highlights a number of issues which the sector – and the IOG – are already addressing. For example, some respondents (particularly those from the volunteer sector) raised concerns over the availability, accessibility and cost of training. The IOG has recently published its Prospectus which details all the cost-effective options, including on-site and ‘distance’ learning routes.
“And the budgetary restrictions that are affecting the maintenance – and therefore the quality and carrying capacity [matches played on] of grassroots pitches – are being addressed not only by The Football Association’s initiatives that include Parklife and the Pitch Improvement Programme, but also by work by the national governing bodies and local authorities to transfer the responsibility of more pitches to clubs and volunteers. Indeed, in some instances, councils are offering to give rent relief where clubs take on maintenance responsibilities.
“Of course, the IOG-led Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP), which is grant- funded by the Football Foundation, The Football Association and the England & Wales Cricket Board, and supported by Sport England, is also actively delivering pitch assessments and training for volunteers (and professionals) at all levels, while the IOG’s National Framework for Natural Turf pitch grading programme will prove an indispensable educational tool for grounds staff from grassroots sites to elite sporting venues.
“The report also highlights how recruitment, especially of young people, is a critical issue and it must be said that while the Young IOG initiative is increasingly spreading the word among schoolchildren about careers in groundscare – especially through its Schools into Stadia programme – it is clear that everyone in the industry must also do more to ensure we have a ‘pipeline’ of competent grounds staff to meet demands at every level.”
Importantly, too, the research shows that almost a quarter of head grounds staff feel stressed or under pressure from inadequate budgets, increasing commercial pressures and an unmanageable workload.
Concluding, Geoff adds: “These are just some of the subjects raised by the survey – not forgetting the issues of diversity and pay discrepancy voiced by some respondents, as well as concerns over climate change and water management – that not only the IOG but the industry as a whole needs to address if we are to continue to produce grounds people and playing surfaces that are the envy of the world.”



 
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