The fifth and final test between England and India has been cancelled due to COVID fears among the Indian camp just hours before the game was due to begin at Emirates Old Trafford.

The tourists said they are unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp. It has been reported that an Indian coach tested positive on Wednesday, although the players are all believed to have tested negative on Thursday.

Tens of thousands of tickets will be refunded due to the decision, with The Daily Telegraph claiming it will cost English cricket in the region of £20m. Lancashire Cricket Club chief executive Daniel Gidney said today the cancellation would cost the club and venue “multimillions”.

Lancashire Cricket, which owns the 21,000-capacity Emirates Old Trafford, said all ticket and hospitality buyers that have purchased tickets for the match will be automatically refunded the full face value of their tickets or hospitality package only in the coming weeks. Hospitality areas will be open today until 2pm.

In a statement, Lancashire Cricket’s Gidney said: “As a club, we are absolutely devastated about the late cancellation of the test at Emirates Old Trafford.

“We’d like to unreservedly apologise to ticket holders and all those that have or are due to travel to Emirates Old Trafford. A full refund will be issued, but we appreciate for many supporters, attending this Test match is more than just the monetary worth. After the last 18 months we’ve all experienced through the pandemic, it’s a fixture cricket fans in the North West have looked forward to for the best part of 18 months.

“You can’t underestimate the work that goes into preparing for a five-day test match and I’d like to thank all our supporters, guests, suppliers, partners and all those involved for their continued support. I’d also like to thank all of the amazing staff who work at Emirates Old Trafford who have worked tirelessly to prepare the ground for the test. We have an incredibly loyal and talented group of people who have worked very long hours in the run up to this game.

“We are working closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board on next steps and the finer detail that will follow as a consequence of this cancellation. In due course, the club will contact ticket and hospitality holders.

“The club would like to once again express its sincere apologies for all inconvenience and disruption caused to all involved.”

Reports have suggested the game could be played next year, with Emirates Old Trafford not scheduled to host a test match in 2022 as things stand.

The cancellation decision was made following conversations between England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI). It is not yet known how the decision will impact the result of the test series, with initial reports of India forfeiting the match having now been dropped. India led the series 2-1 after winning the fourth test.

In a statement, the ECB said: “We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many. Further information will be shared in due course.”

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is due to resume in Dubai on September 19.