Ben Fisher on 25 March 2020
Watford have offered the use of Vicarage Road to help the National Health Service combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The Premier League ground is adjacent to Watford general hospital and the club chairman, Scott Duxbury, said they would do “whatever it takes” to support the NHS during a challenging period. The stadium is to be opened up for a multitude of purposes, including training, inductions, childcare facilities and warehouse space.
Of Watford’s gesture, a West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust spokeswoman said it was “very grateful for their support”.
The football season has been suspended until at least 30 April and other events such as inductions and courses have been postponed or cancelled owing to the virus. The NHS will have easy access from the nearby hospital site to the stadium and Watford said they were “ready to act accordingly” when NHS staff have co-ordinated their needs.
Duxbury said: “We need to forget football right now and concentrate on doing all we can to support the NHS and, in particular, Watford general hospital. Our proximity as a football club next door to a hospital puts us in a great position to offer help and we’re keen to do whatever we possibly can to support NHS staff and their families.
“The UK government’s message has been about doing ‘whatever it takes’. Likewise we’ll do ‘whatever it takes’ here at Vicarage Road to offer our fullest support to the NHS and its people at a time when it’s clearly needed most.”
The WHHT chief executive, Christine Allen, said: “We have found ourselves needing extra space very quickly. For example, we are running refresher training to our clinical staff so they can care for patients with breathing difficulties.
“And we also need more space so we can stick to important guidance about social distancing for our staff induction sessions and for key meetings when we need our senior leadership teams around the table.
“The club’s support is helping us to run our organisation safely and we are very grateful for their support at this challenging time.”