Premier League clubs to make changes for disabled fans
All Premier League teams have agreed to improve access for their disabled supporters by 2017, after a BBC investigation found that 17 of the 20 top flight clubs failed to provide enough wheelchair access.
Thanks to the new agreement, 15 of the best clubs in the country will be upgrading their facilities to meet guidelines on accessible stadia. As well as the BBC investigation, a government report had also criticised the clubs for failing to meet the requirements, with minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson MP saying that a common sense fix was suitable in some cases, but admitting that other areas will ‘need some work’.
A spokesperson for the Premier League said: ‘We are undertaking our own assessment by surveying every Premier League stadium to determine improvements for disabled access.Disability access was discussed at the Premier League shareholders meeting last week with several new proposals agreed.’
The recommendations of the new report focus on several key areas, including planning attendance, buying tickets, travel to and from the ground and overall experience. This includes a greater provision of safety equipment, such as evac chairs, as well as better training on offer for stewards and match day staff.
All of this comes hot on the heels of the threat of legal action against top clubs from the Equality and Human Rights Commission after they received a number of complaints. These included a specific complaint about Manchester United removing walking aids from some fans.
It also follows the second reading of the Accessible Sports Grounds Bill in the House of Lords. Lord Holmes of Richmond, the UK’s most successful Paralympic swimmer, called on advertisers to boycott the sport until progress was made in terms of provision.
Disabled fans have just as much right to enjoy watching their team in a safe environment as anyone else, and given the recent huge injection of cash into the Premier League from new TV money, it seems shocking that provision for disabled fans should still be so neglected. Hopefully these recent events will rectify this situation.