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COVID-19 venue news: Real Madrid, Tottenham, Manchester United and more

Real Madrid

Atlético de Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has offered the use of its Wanda Metropolitano stadium to arch rival Real Madrid for the remainder of the 2019-20 LaLiga season.

The offer comes as LaLiga prepares to resume its 2019-20 campaign, which has been suspended due to COVID-19, with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis later today (Thursday). Real is currently in the midst of a major redevelopment of its Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and this month confirmed that its remaining home games this season would take place at Estadio Alfredo di Stéfano, the home of its reserve team, allowing work to continue.

Speaking at an event attended by both clubs, and hosted by LaLiga and Madrid City Council, Cerezo said: “No-one should doubt that we are ready to help out Real Madrid.”

Such an agreement has been reached before, with Real allowing Atlético to use the Bernabéu for its first match of the 1996-97 season as the pitch at the latter’s then home, Vicente Calderon, was unplayable.

The Spanish government is currently moving towards a scenario whereby limited numbers of fans would be allowed to return to stadia, meaning that while Barcelona could be playing in front of crowds of around 30,000 at the Camp Nou, Real would be playing in front of around 1,800 fans at the 6,000-capacity Estadio Alfredo di Stéfano.

However, Madrid-based newspaper Marca said there is no chance Real will take up Atletico’s offer, stating it has already prepared Estadio Alfredo di Stéfano to host games, while the club is of the belief that it will be the beginning of the 2020-21 season before fans are allowed back in stadia.

The news comes as Real today marked the first year of work on the Bernabéu redevelopment by updating on progress made and revealing a series of photos of the stadium site. It was reported last month that the transformation project will include the installation of a retractable pitch.

Real is said to have decided on a retractable pitch in an effort to ensure its new-look stadium is multi-purpose, aiding the staging of events such as concerts. Real’s venture will reportedly differ from similar systems employed at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Veltins-Arena, home of German Bundesliga club Schalke 04, by moving the pitch underground when not in use.

In April, Real recommenced work on the redevelopment of the Bernabéu, marking the occasion with the release of a new video showcasing the project. Throughout the 2019-20 season, work has been taking place to adapt or demolish existing parts of the stadium, but this was suspended at the end of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will continue to be open for vital NHS services when the Premier League returns next week.

North Middlesex University Hospital has been using the stadium for COVID-19 drive-through testing and the relocation of its Women’s Outpatient Services since April. Tottenham has now confirmed that these services will continue to be provided even though the stadium will be used to stage Premier League matches.

The testing has been taking place in the basement car park, while other areas of the stadium, such as the away changing room, emergency medical room, official’s room, doping control and medical welfare rooms, have been transformed to accommodate the Women’s Outpatient Services.

These areas will all be cleaned, sterilised and disinfected ahead of returning them to their original use, with NHS services to be relocated to other appropriate areas. Drive-through testing will continue as normal in the basement car park, as will the food distribution hub operated by Haringey Council as part of Tottenham’s South Stand ‘pitch pocket’ initiative.

No non-football operations will take place when the stadium is hosting matches.

Maria Kane, chief executive of North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, said: “The innovative partnership between our two organisations has been vital to ensure NHS services continue while the country copes with the challenges posed by COVID-19. I am pleased that this partnership will continue, and that local women will still be able to access high quality maternity care.”

Manchester United

Manchester United has joined a number of other Premier League clubs by launching a fan mosaic initiative at Old Trafford for when matches return.

United is inviting fans to upload pictures of themselves using a form on the club’s website or through the official app. The pictures will then be placed at Old Trafford for United’s remaining home games of the 2019-20 season.

Fans will be able to take part in the initiative whether or not they have a season ticket. The images will be stored at United’s museum when fans are able to return to Old Trafford.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa has also announced a similar initiative to United.

Villa will collate its fan mosaic via Twitter, with supporters encouraged to retweet the club’s pinned tweet. Supporters’ profile pictures will then be automatically added to the fan mosaic, once they have been reviewed and approved by moderators.

Villa is also appealing for fans to send in their flags to position in the stands at Villa Park, while supporters can send videos of themselves cheering on the team, which could be played on the pitchside LED advertising boards. Fans have until tomorrow (Friday) to submit their flags.

Image: Real Madrid