Emirates Old Trafford, home of Lancashire Cricket, has become a cashless venue in a move designed to enhance the matchday experience for returning supporters.

The move came into effect yesterday (Monday) as Lancashire’s second XI hosted Middlesex at Emirates Old Trafford. Yesterday marked the first day that outdoor sports venues across England were able to welcome fans as part of the government’s roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions.

The move will mean that only card payments will be accepted at Emirates Old Trafford. Lancashire Cricket said the use of contactless card payments is preferred to, and safer than, the handling of cash in the current climate.

It is also hoped that the cashless model will reduce queues around the stadium and allow fans to miss less of the action. The move will also apply to the venue’s non-matchday conference and events business and the on-site Hilton Garden Inn hotel.

Steve Davies, Lancashire Cricket’s operations director, said: “There are several reasons behind Emirates Old Trafford becoming a cashless venue, the main one being that the use of contactless card payments significantly minimises the potential for spreading the virus.

“By moving to a fully cashless operation, our guests can also expect to experience increased speed and shorter queue times at our retail store, bars and food kiosks. A substantial amount of work has gone into preparing the venue and ensuring it is fully compliant with government regulations and we cannot wait to welcome supporters back later this month.”

Earlier this month, it was reported by the Daily Mail that senior figures in English cricket were pushing for the return of capacity crowds from next month by offering to deploy COVID-status certification.

The report said the sport’s working group, which features Lancashire chief executive Daniel Gidney, proposes attendances of up to 30,000 fans, or half a stadium’s capacity, whichever is larger, from June 21. That is the date that the government has indicated could see the end of social distancing rules under step 4 of its roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions.

Image: Lancashire Cricket/Matt Eachus