Crowd of 5,000 will be allowed at final day of Glorious Goodwood

Goodwood have got their wish! They will be allowed to admit 5,000 racecourse members and guests into what promises to be a Super Saturday on the final day of Glorious Goodwood.

A crowd of 5,000 will be allowed into the final day of Glorious Goodwood / Picture: Tommy McMillan
A crowd of 5,000 will be allowed into the final day of Glorious Goodwood / Picture: Tommy McMillan

As we exclusively reported on Wednesday Goodwood were hoping to get the green light to be part of a government test of how elite sporting venues get on with allowing crowds back in.

The news came today as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced a small number of sporting events, including horse racing, will be used to pilot the safe return of spectators through late July and early August.

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Furthermore, there's a plan to allow fans into football grounds and other sporting arenas in October as the country gradually returns to something like normal.

Today's announcement confirmed the horse racing pilot event would take place on Saturday, August 1 at Goodwood, the final day of five of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

The day normally attracts close to 25,000, so the 5,000 limit will mean the site being only 20 per cent full.

Adam Waterworth, Sport Managing Director at the Goodwood Estate,said: “We are delighted that the Qatar Goodwood Festival has been selected as a pilot event for the return of crowds. It marks an important day for the sports industry following a few challenging months.

“Our annual members have continued to support us throughout, for which we are enormously grateful. It is therefore fantastic to offer them the opportunity to witness racing on the Downs again.

“The Goodwood team will ensure the racecourse adheres to Government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene. We hope that this will be the next step in ensuring crowds for future sporting events.”

It's all a big step forward in the sporting economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the racing industry said it was grateful for the support of DCMS in selecting horse-racing to be one of the sports to host a pilot event, two months after it returned safely behind closed doors. Goodwood successfully held two behind-closed-doors fixtures in the middle of June.

The RCA-led stage five industry working group have also worked tirelessly in recent weeks to enable this pilot event to take place, reflecting the unique characteristics of racecourses as outdoor sporting venues.

This event will be a pilot to implement new safety protocols developed by DCMS, the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and racing to implement new safety protocols to allow elite sporting venues to welcome back spectators.

An event for 5,000 people, plus participants, has been designed for the safety of all on-site. Attendance will initially be offered to Goodwood Racecourse annual members and their guests. The day will be carefully planned in conjunction with the local authority and other relevant bodies to ensure that the event carries minimal risk to attendees and the local community.

For all racegoers attending, a code of conduct must be acknowledged and agreed in advance. This sets out expectations on the behaviour and actions of everyone involved to maintain hygiene levels and social distancing, as well as outlining the facilities and initiatives put in place by the racecourse to enable this. Further information will be published in due course.

Following the pilot event, the industry group will conduct a thorough debrief to understand which measures worked well and which require further refinement.

A spokesman said: "Whilst collectively we share the excitement of all involved in hosting this event, it will not be possible for all racecourses to immediately follow suit and welcome crowds. This will be subject to a successful debrief, finalising the extensive protocols involved and further permission granted from Government."

David Armstrong, RCA Chief Executive and chair of the welcoming crowds industry group, said: “We welcome the fact that horse-racing is to be selected as one of the pilot events to welcome back crowds and my team and I acknowledge the great responsibility upon us.

“The safety protocols involved will be stringent and the Goodwood Racecourse team are in a fantastic place to implement them. The sport has come together to offer support to ensure the pilot event provides us with sufficient learnings that others may follow in time. These learnings will allow us to draft industry-wide protocols fir the wider scale return of crowds as soon as we are able.

“Crowds bring a wonderful atmosphere to a raceday and many businesses associated with racecourses are reliant upon them. I sincerely hope that all involved enjoy their day— our focus now turns to supporting the Goodwood team in what is a landmark day for the sport.”

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “For months millions of us have felt the void of being unable to go to the match to support our team or attend a top-class sporting event. So I am pleased that we are now able to move forward with a plan to help venues safely reopen their doors to fans.

“I recognise that not every sport, team or club has the benefit of huge commercial revenue, and it is often their dedicated fans that are the lifeblood which helps keep them going. By working closely with sports and medical experts, these pilots will help ensure the safe return of fans to stadia.

“Although it will remain some time before venues are full to capacity, this is a major step in the right direction for the resumption of live spectator sport across the country.”