The Oval: Surrey plan to reduce capacity to 6,000 if cricket restarts

The Oval has a capacity of 25,500

Surrey hope to stage cricket in front of a reduced-capacity crowd at The Oval at some stage this summer, chief executive Richard Gould has said.

The county are looking into whether they could safely welcome up to 6,000 fans to the ground.

The Oval can hold 25,500 spectators and regularly sells out for international fixtures and T20 Blast matches.

No cricket has been played in England since the coronavirus pandemic halted competitive sport in March.

The Oval was due to host the first Test of the summer between England and the West Indies next week, but the season is on hold until at least 1 July.

It is looking increasingly unlikely the historic ground will hold any international cricket this year with the ECB likely to favour stadiums with on-site hotels.

“There is work ongoing but at a very gentle pace. One of the issues cricket has is we can only play in the summer,” Gould told BBC Sport.

“Therefore we’d like to understand possibilities of getting fans in later on in the summer.

“But we’re not going to do anything that doesn’t get full clearance. We’re not going to do anything other than follow government guidelines.”

The inaugural season of The Hundred competition has been cancelled, but the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) still wants to hold first-class and limited-overs competitions.

Northamptonshire have said they are looking to host T20 Blast matches in front of reduced crowds of around 1,500 fans this summer.

“The 25% capacity is something we’ve been looking at from other sporting venues. It may end up having to be lower than that,” Gould continued.

“Open air, sitting outside, at some stage may be perceived as different to sitting inside.

“We want to spread some optimism. If we can provide a little bit of positive leadership that’d be great.”

Gould also said a good financial year for the county last year was helping them get through the situation.

“Last year we had a profit before tax of over £6m,” he said.

“But as of March, everything has stopped, tickets sales have stopped, conferences and events. It’s a very strange situation to be in.

“Any events-based business at the moment is finding things extraordinarily difficult.”

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