New Covid test trialled by Hearts aims to get fans back inside full stadiums sooner
Hearts agreed to try out the procedure on some non-footballing employees, including owner Ann Budge, and were impressed by the quick results.
The new BioSure kit works by testing saliva with the outcome confirmed within minutes and verified via a smartphone app.
A negative result would represent a supporter’s passport into crowded events, and Hearts are keen to utilise the method if government officials approve it.
Testing kits can be mass produced through WSA Healthcare, whose subsidiary FOYS Medical sponsor Hamilton Academical’s ground.
WSA’s chief executive Chris McKendrick explained that the method would allow thousands to self-test for the virus and could get stadiums back to capacity next season.
Each test costs between £10 and £13.50, whereas PCR tests currently used by football clubs range from £60 upwards.
“The beauty of the BioSure test is because of its accuracy and price, it’s doable. It has already been CE approved, now we just need government approval,” said McKendrick.
“Utilised properly, this system would ensure everyone around about you has been shown to be virus-free, so you could fill up to capacity again. It’s exciting.
“Our job now is to get out there and speak to various businesses and try and get people back. Some of the lower-league clubs aren’t playing just now and they’ve had to fork out on expensive PCR testing during the week.
“If this is much more affordable and we can help them do it, that’s a big plus.
“I believe some of this could help now. Realistically, if we can get government approval, I don’t see why we can’t be there for the start of next season with confidence.
“We have links with football through sponsoring Hamilton and we have links with other clubs including Ann. So if we can get the support of the clubs and everybody else, hopefully we can push it a bit quicker.”
The app can be used for testing prior to large-scale events like sports matches and concerts. “The PocDoc app will be more useful if you were going to a stadium with 60,000 people or 70,000 at a rugby match at Murrayfield,” added McKendrick.
“That has all your details so there’s no way of cheating it. You do your test, you get our result within 15 minutes, that will be uploaded for you and you get a confirmation.
“Effectively that’s your pass to get into the stadium. We’re now in a confident position and we’re reaching out to people. We can provide it in vast quantities and, if people want it, we can provide it very soon.”
Decisions on who would fund the tests have yet to be made. “If you go to a local place you may get a PCR test for £60-80, if you go to an airport or have to quarantine you’re hearing well over £100,” said McKendrick. “We think it’s going to be between £10-13.50, depending on volume.
“Who pays for that? The fan? The club? Can it be subsidised by government? These are the things we are speaking to people about. There is obviously a big desire to get the economy going and that will only happen if we get people back into stadiums like Tynecastle.”