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Man Utd cleans up to ensure Covid-free environment for players and fans

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In a world first, the football giants boast a science-backed ‘Hygiene Director’ to oversee a virus-free environment for their superstars and fans.

Since August, the Old Trafford side have partnered with Ecolab, a US global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention.

It sees Ecolab’s George Olden, 29, work as United’s Hygiene Director – making sure their Carrington training ground and stadium stay infection-free.

And United gave the Daily Express full access to Old Trafford and Carrington to see the scientific ‘ring of steel’ in action.

George now hopes United’s lead will show all major sports clubs the way to keep supporters, players and the game itself shielded from future pandemic shutdowns.

He explained: “My position is an industry first, and I see this as Manchester United opening the door to a new arena of science in sports.

“Manchester United are the first club to bring in this kind of science of hygiene in.”

Since August, Ecolab have placed 2,000 hand sanitisers round Old Trafford and average 250 litres of hand hygiene product per game.

With over 1.2 million United fans through the turnstiles since then it means approximately five million hands have been cleaned at Old Trafford.

They explained to United how humans on average encounter 300 surfaces every 30 minutes, exposing ourselves to 840,000 germs.

But washing hands more than six times a day can reduce the risk of catching coronavirus by 36 percent.

So the firm identified more than 380,000 touch points at Old Trafford by recreating a typical fan journey – then deployed sanitisers along those routes.

They also use their Bioquell device to clinically decontaminate entire rooms at a time and all their surfaces inside.

This allows them, for example, to within minutes deep clean the United home dressing room of 99.9999 percent of known germs, viruses, fungi and bacteria.

George added: “It allows us to provide safe spaces like team dressing rooms, where it’s very important to reset the environment between things like the fan tours.

“Come game day, we need to make that space the safest possible.

“It will fill the room with a hydrogen peroxide vapour that will deposit on every single surface in the room – that micro-condensation kills the organisms on the surface.

“Meanwhile at Carrington with the laundry team, we’ve installed a tailored textile care solution to keep the kits clean and water treatment there too.”

Stephen Cooper, United’s Head of Catering and Event Delivery, explained how their roster of superstar players have all bought into the new sanitising methods.

Stephen told the Daily Express: “We’ve always taken cleanliness and hygiene seriously.

“We are delighted as a club with how the players have engaged in all aspects of the difficult Covid regime.

“When we did have an outbreak in early December we were able to lean on George and his expertise.

“We were delighted with the way we contained that outbreak and get the players back training as quickly as possible.”

The December outbreak saw two league games cancelled, but within 24-hours George’s team had already sanitised the entire training facility – to prevent it spreading further.

George explained: “We computer mapped-out the players’ journeys to highlight key areas, so we could reset that space.

“Premier League clubs generate billions-worth of economic value to the region.

“Delivering a safe experience for players at Carrington and fans at Old Trafford is critical to continue to grow that economy.

“Hygiene plays a key role in keeping operations running and fans coming to the stadium, and our solutions are already making an impact across United’s facilities.”

George has more than eight years of experience with Ecolab, bringing the expertise of the US firm’s 45,000 global workforce with him to United.

He added: “As a Manchester United fan since a very young age, I am honoured to bring my expertise to help strengthen the Club.

“The team is constantly looking for that edge to deliver an impressive football performance.

“Now with the same focus and dedication, our team will help behind the scenes to protect Manchester United’s operations.”

One such example is the way Ecolab are now filtering the local bore hole water Carrington uses, which is heavy in iron deposits.

By cleaning that supply they can help give the training ground better quality pitches with less need for cleaning the ‘orange’ iron stains off equipment and kit.

In terms of reducing carbon footprint, the firm have also helped United save 15,000 litres of water across their 31 kitchens since November 2021.

And they have saved over 5,500 kilos of plastic in food service areas, replacing bottled wash liquids with eco-friendly packaged solid capsules.

That is the equivalent of 350,000 water bottles in less than a half-season.

Proudly boasting their market lead in sports hygiene, United’s Stephen added: “I think society will have a different look at hygiene going forward.

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“What the pandemic did highlight was how important sport is in the day to day lives of everybody; it’s really important to make sure it doesn’t get disrupted.

“We have a responsibility being such an important club as people will follow our lead.”

While Man United’s Chief Operations Officer Colette Roche said having George as on site ‘Hygiene Director’ was invaluable.

She said: “Public health has become critical to running a football club.

“Health and safety are a priority for Manchester United’s and our extensive operations team is at the front line to deliver a safer environment.

“We have made substantial investments and changes to welcome fans back at the start of this season.

“Thanks to the Hygiene Director’s scientific approach, we can implement best-in-class protocols to provide assurances for players, fans and employees.”



“The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us of the importance of hygiene  but future pandemics and new COVID-19 variants are inevitable.

“Another global health challenge is antibiotic resistance, causing more than 1.2 million annual deaths due to infections developing immunity to current treatments.

“And there are 4.1 million patients a year who need extra bed days due to Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs).

“Pandemic or not, infections are a burden on our healthcare systems and they impact our productivity.

“So adopting a common commitment to heightened standards for hygiene leave us more prepared to face these threats.

“That is why we apply the same science-backed expertise we provide to hospitals to an array of industries – such as hospitality and now live sports entertainment.

“We have helped Manchester United identify more than 380,000 touch points at Old Trafford to implement protocols to safer hygiene practices.

“From the strategic placement of 2,000 hand hygiene stations to the bio-decontamination of critical areas, we help protect a fan’s journey through the stadium.

“We have learned in these pandemic times that advancing cleaner, safer, science-based hygiene practices are key to protecting us now and in the future – whatever it may hold.

“That’s why we work with Manchester United and will do our utmost to support any organization to make the world safer for all of us.”

  • Adrian Studer – Senior Vice President & Market Head Western Europe at Ecolab


THE POSITIVE PROFESSOR  – Professor Karol Sikora

WE’VE heard a lot from various doctors, scientists and health professionals on what people shouldn’t do over the last two years, so what about more positive health advice?

It certainly doesn’t attract as many headlines, but I think it has far more lasting value.

What activity, which the vast majority of us can do every day for free, would have an enormous positive impact on our health? The answer is walking.

When most people think of what it means to get fit and active, they immediately picture gruelling 10km runs or sweaty gym sessions.

Of course all that helps, but it doesn’t have to be that taxing.

Walking is an enormously underrated form of exercise but many of us simply don’t do it and enjoy the benefits. Strolling for five kilometres does not burn significantly fewer calories than jogging that same distance, and it is an awful lot easier!

Let’s face it, we are a lazy country. We drive short distances to the shop or to drop the kids off at school, when walking would suffice. Many of us live busy lives, but finding an extra 30 minutes in the day to wear off some shoe leather is not impossible. And considering the state of the traffic in most towns, a journey may actually take longer in the car!

Getting a dog certainly helps.

If Chico, my rescued street dog, doesn’t get his daily steps in, he becomes a nightmare. There couldn’t be a better motivation.

There are very few reasonable excuses about why we all can’t get walking more, especially with the days getting longer. What is holding you back?

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