Belgian Pro League football team Anderlecht has announced that its Lotto Park stadium will become a COVID-19 vaccination centre, while Premier League club Manchester United has opened Old Trafford for use by St John Ambulance as a training centre for England’s vaccination programme.

Lotto Park (pictured) is set to be engaged as part of the Brussels-Capital Region’s multi-phase strategy to ensure at least 70% of the population are protected against COVID-19. The first phase, which commenced on December 28, has seen primary care providers prioritised.

From the beginning of March, Lotto Park will be part of the second phase of vaccinations with the target of administering 25,000 jabs per month. The centre’s operating times will be adjusted around Anderlecht games at the stadium, with the vaccination period to last until at least August 31.

Jos Donvil, CEO of Anderlecht, said: “When Mayor Fabrice Cumps contacted us with the request to fight the virus together, we did not hesitate to actively support the large-scale operation. Our role is to serve the community. We are proud to open the doors of our stadium to the people of Anderlecht and all other Brussels residents.”

Cumps added: “The RSC Anderlecht stadium is an iconic place to host the campaign. More than ever, the great cooperation between club and municipality serves all citizens.”

Meanwhile, United this weekend made Old Trafford available for use by St John Ambulance as a training centre for hundreds of volunteers as part of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme. Four hospitality suites across the stadium will continue to be used as a large-scale training facility over the next four weekends.

Across the UK, St John Ambulance will be training around 30,000 volunteers to administer COVID-19 vaccines in support of the nationwide effort against the pandemic. Those trained at Old Trafford will deliver vaccines across Greater Manchester.

Manchester City this month detailed how it is providing assistance to the newly established COVID-19 vaccination centre located at the Etihad Campus. Manchester Tennis & Football Centre, located on the same Etihad Campus site as City’s Etihad Stadium, was earlier named by the UK government as one of seven “super-vaccination” centres.

Under its scheme, United staff will also have the opportunity to volunteer for the programme to be trained in the coming weeks. Last year, when the pandemic struck, one of the first steps the club took was to produce 60,000 meals for NHS staff in local hospitals. 

This initiative involved over 80 club and foundation colleagues preparing £150,000 (€169,000/$205,000) worth of food which was delivered to four NHS Manchester sites. Car parks at Old Trafford were also used for drive-through testing while hospitality facilities were utilised for a blood donation drive.

Collette Roche, chief operating officer of Manchester United, said: “The (Old Trafford) suites, parking, access and our dedicated events team can be valuable assets to this national effort to tackle COVID-19. We are proud to open our doors to St John Ambulance and welcome everyone involved in what is an inspirational project.

“We recognise that our local community will be feeling the effects of the pandemic for some time and we remain committed to using our resources to support the response to this public health emergency and its social impacts.”

In other news, the NHS has today (Monday) announced more sports stadia and arenas adapted to become vaccination centres. The new centres are among more than 30 opening across the country as the vaccination drive continues to accelerate.

As previously reported, their number include League One football venues Kassam Stadium, home of Oxford United, and Home Park, which hosts Plymouth Argyle. Sheffield’s FlyDSA Arena will also be utilised.

There is now a network of 50 large scale centres, capable of jabbing thousands of people a week, across England.

Image: KSKB1935/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size