WATFORD have offered their stadium to the NHS in the battle against coronavirus.
The Vicarage Road ground is next door to Watford General Hospital and Hornets chairman Scott Duxbury said the club would do “whatever it takes” to support the health service.
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The stadium is used to host induction courses and meetings.
A West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) spokeswoman said it was “very grateful for their support”.
The club says there is easy access straight into the hospital site from the stadium’s Graham Taylor Stand and it was “ready to act accordingly” when senior NHS staff had co-ordinated the trust’s exact requirements.
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.”
WHHT chief executive, Christine Allen, said the trust had found itself “needing extra space very quickly” for things like running refresher training for clinical staff so they could care for patients with breathing difficulties.
She added: “We also need more space so that 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.”
Meanwhile, Brighton have started a campaign to make 100,000 free tickets available to NHS workers across pro football as a “thank you” for fighting the deadly Covid-19.
Bournemouth soon joined them in signing-up to the initiative after the Seagulls invited other Premier League, EFL, Scottish and Northern Irish clubs to join them by handing the “baton” to one another.
Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said: “We fully appreciate football is the last thing on anyone’s minds at this moment, but we feel this is a small way in which we can show our gratitude for those NHS staff on the frontline, fighting the battle on all of our behalf – and give them something to look forward to.
“If each of the 92 clubs committed on average one thousand tickets, with The FA donating for a future England international and Scottish Premier League and Irish League clubs also contributing, we could easily top 100,000 tickets for these heroes.
“We are seeing some brilliant initiatives from clubs all over the world, and I am hopeful that there is more to come from the football family.
“Of course the biggest support we can all show our NHS heroes is by following that crucial government advice on social distancing, self-isolating, hand hygiene and using tissues to catch, kill and bin coughs and sneezes.”
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