Gillingham

Gillingham

Assessment of Accessible Facilities

Stadium

Priestfield Stadium

Address

Redfern Avenue
Gillingham
ME7 4DD

Club / stadium contact for disabled supporters

Name

David Burgon

Telephone no.

01634 300000

E-mail address

Disabled Supporters Association

Contact Name

There is no DSA at present.

Telephone no.

E-mail address

Website address

 

 

Accessibility Information

For UK minimum access standards for new and existing stadia and for good practice guidance please click here.

 

Getting There & Parking

 

Priestfield Stadium is in a very residential area of Medway and has no parking for supporters.  Supporters can be dropped off close to the stadium in any of the surrounding streets as no roads are closed on match days.  They are also able to park in any of the residential areas as long as they display a blue badge correctly. Drop off facilities are also available by request from the safety officer.

 

The club's official club class travel to away games is fully accessible for all supporters.

 

National Rail have published links to the nearest stations to sporting venues including Gillingham see here for more information.

 

Level Playing Field have not verified the information given and we suggest that you contact the station direct if you have any access requirements.

Getting a Ticket

 

For information on purchasing a ticket please visit the Gillingham Website

Spectator Viewing areas

 

There are 102 wheelchair user spaces - 96 for Home fans and 6 for Away fans - all located pitch side. Away fans are seated with their own supporters. Ambulant disabled Home fans have access to seats in the first 3 rows in any block and Away fans have access to the first 3 rows at the back in segregated areas with own fans.

 

NB: Under existing minimum standards for accessible stadia, the club should have 105 wheelchair spaces (89 home and up to 16 away). 75% of these should be elevated positions and the remaining 25% pitchside.

 

LPF's view is that many disabled supporters should be able to access general seating areas and only those with specific needs eg those who require extra legroom, or access via aisle seats or who need step free access etc should be allocated seats in the dedicated areas.

 

Based on the above, the club therefore meets 97% of the guidance and has a shortfall of 3 wheelchair spaces. They should be working on a plan to rectify this deficit within a reasonable timeframe under the auspices of a full independent Access Audit.

Accessible amenities

 

There are 6 accessible toilets in each stand at various locations. The club shop is accessible for all fans but does not have a low level serving counter. All food kiosks, as well as the Club Shop and ticket office are easily accessible. 

Accessible services & information

 

The ticket office does have a hearing loop installed. Match commentaries are available through Access Audio full Aural Aide description equipment. A total of 10 headsets are available and can be ordered when booking tickets and can be collected from the club shop on Redfern Avenue. Deposits are needed for away fans.

 

Facilities for assistance dogs are not available. The concourses do not have rest areas included.

 

Updated August 2014

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Comments

J&J

Match: 05/10/13

Published: 20/10/2013

 

Our first visit to Priestfield as away wheelchair fans. 

 

Access to the Ground

In a nutshell, not easy!   By no means straight off the motorway but the ground is well signposted - follow the brown signs.  The ground itself is in a residential area on the edges of the town centre.   Earlier reviews refer to the perils of the journey between the ground and the town centre for disabled fans.  We regularly travel to matches in a wheelchair-accessible mini-bus that is part of our Club’s official away travel and as such are usually allowed to park close to our entrance without too many difficulties.   We were therefore somewhat surprised to be informed that there was no parking at all at Priestfield and even to be dropped off at the stadium would have to be arranged through our Police Liaison Officer.  

 

As it was we took a wrong turning getting to the ground and ended up in the side street where the away fans’ entrance is located (Priestfield Road).   This is a very narrow cul-de-sac with the back of the away (Brian Moore) stand along the top of it.  Residents’ cars are parked nose to tail down either side.  Very luckily there was a space at the top, which allowed our driver to turn the mini-bus and we were advised by the Stewards that with a Blue Badge we could park there.

 

Whilst it was ideal, about two yards from the away fans’ entrance, I would want to warn other visiting disabled fans of the perils of entering Priestfield Road hoping to park there.   One is that without that rare space, you would struggle to turn a car let alone a mini-bus, particularly with other cars parked in what is essentially the turning area.  What is more our driver later told us that despite the police, when they walked past, confirming that it was ok for the mini-bus to be parked as it was, this was not the view of the resident of the opposite property.   When he returned home he shouted and swore angrily, demanding the bus be moved.  He was not successful with his demands but it was clearly an unpleasant event which I would not wish other fans to experience.   

 

Facilities in the Ground for Away Wheelchair Fans

Viewing Areas

After entering the away end, you go through a tunnel in the middle of the scaffolding that forms the “temporary” away stand and turn left, where there is room (Gillingham’s web site says) for 6 away wheelchair fans at pitch level with companions sat in the row behind.   On this occasion there were 3 wheelchair users and with some careful manoeuvring we managed to make enough room for our companions to sit at the side of us on let-down seats.   More than 3 wheelchair users and this would not be possible.   Even with companions on the row behind, I doubt there would be room for 6 wheelchair users, unless they all breathed in! 

 

My husband reported that the let-down seat he had felt quite flimsy.  As he is only 11 stone, this is not something he usually reports.   Not sure if this was just his seat or whether this reflects the temporary nature of this stand, although it seems this stand has been temporary for some time.  The wheelchair spaces are slightly to the left of the goal, with the tunnel in the nearest corner.   You need to be vigilant as to the whereabouts of the ball, particularly during warm up when the practice goal is directly in front of you!  The score board is relatively small over the adjacent stand but visible.   I got a good 3G signal.   Whilst at the away end, as there were only around 350 away fans and they fill from the back, we felt a long way from anyone else!   

 

As mentioned in previous reviews, in common with all away fans at Gillingham, there is no protection from the weather and as we were told, being by the sea, there are frequently showers on days you would not expect there to be, so you always need to visit with good waterproofs, just in case!

 

Refreshments

The refreshment counter is immediately on your right as you enter the ground.   (There is no lowered counter.)  This was one of those rare occasions when we needed to purchase food at the ground.  It reminded us why we try to avoid doing so!  The burgers we purchased were some of the worst we have ever had.   The only good thing about them was the salad on them, of which there was an extraordinary amount!  My husband could not recall how much he paid so I can only comment on quality, not value.

 

Accessible Toilets

The accessible toilets are to the right in the corner between the away stand and the adjacent home stand and shared between the home and away fans in the two stands.   We found them spotlessly clean.   They are accessed through a fairly long wrap around gradual ramp.  They are opened with a Radar key supplied by the steward at the bottom of the slope who also offered to help unlock the door.   The external door leads into a small area off which there are two toilet cubicles, one with right hand transfer and the other left hand transfer.   Not the biggest cubicles but once I had moved the bin I was able to turn ok.   Hand soap and hand towels supplied but I was unable to get any hot water out of the tap.   For me, getting out of the main door was the most difficult bit, so if you find heavy doors difficult make sure you are not alone in the toilets, particularly as there is no alarm cord.

  

Headset Commentaries for Visually Impaired Fans

Available for both home and away fans regardless of where they are sat in the ground.   As advised on Gillingham FC’s website, we emailed David Burgon, the Club’s Disabled Liaison Officer, prior to the match to reserve a headset.   The web site explained that due to losing headsets in the past, they required credit/debit card details to cover the cost of the headset should it not be returned.   In his reply David explained that if the headset was lost the amount your card would be debited is £228 and you need to collect and return the headset to the Club shop in Redfern Avenue.    On arrival, my husband, who is severely visually impaired, was directed by the stewards to go along an entry between the stadium and the first house and walk round the outside of the stadium until he came to the Club Shop.   (The headsets are actually at Reception which is straight in front of you as you enter the Club’s Superstore.)  My husband reported that the Club official there was very helpful, expecting him and filled in the form for him.  He also advised that they were having problems with reception this season and it had been found that it worked better if you kept the receiver on your knee rather than in your pocket.   My husband was advised that the shop would be open for return of the headset for 15-20 mins after the match.  

 

As it was, my husband reported good reception and an excellent commentary, one of the best.  The whole game was covered by a single commentator, so there was no chat, he was totally impartial and gave good directional information so you knew exactly which way play was happening.  My husband was so impressed, he is emailing the Club to ask that his thanks be passed on to the commentator.    At the end of the match my husband was confident that he could retrace his steps to hand back the headset.   What he had not been told was the entry he had used was now padlocked and he was advised the route back was literally “all round the houses”.   Not knowing the route or the level of crowds he might encounter and not wanting to get lost when the mini-bus would be keen to start the homeward journey, he explained his predicament to a Steward and the financial imperative that the headset is returned which she undertook to do, knowing that we had noted her number.   To ensure that we would not be charged £228 we rang the Club Shop first thing Monday morning to confirm they had received the headset.  

 

Attitude of Club Officials

As indicated already, all the officials we came across were helpful and friendly.  The Fire Marshall deserves special mention, not because we needed his particular specialism (thankfully) but because he was such a character, teasing us in the nicest possible way before the match and stopping to speak to us on his way home when he saw us outside the ground, wishing us a safe journey home.  Stewards deserve special mention for happily letting us use the toilets in the ground before it was officially open.   We have had experience of stewards elsewhere being reluctant to do this, but it is the one thing you want after a journey!

 

After the Match

With a relatively small away crowd and being parked so close to the exit we had no problem leaving.    Traffic was queuing but not excessively so, experienced a lot worse at other grounds.   The entries between the stadium and the housing which were locked when we came out of the stadium we noticed were unlocked by the time we came to leave, so if they can be helpful to you, I would think it worth waiting for them to open, as the pavements as referred to in earlier reviews, did appear narrow and uneven. 

 

Will We go Again?

Yes, would happily return.   Though we would hope for another dry day and I doubt we could pull off parking in Priestfield Road again!   I would avoid buying food in the stadium.   

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colin hazelton

Match: vs Colchester United August 3, 2013

Published: 5/8/2013

 

Being partially-ambulant I arrived on our supporters coach which also stores my mobility scooter. We parked in the coach park about 10-15 minutes from the ground. The route ,whilst not being without some sloped pavements was, nevertheless, not exactly ideal for either my small scooter nor I should think wheelchairs. Other vehicles seemed to park in nearby streets, which whilst closer are no less difficult to negotiate. I will say that I conducted most of my journey from coach park to ground on the road as the pavements were uneven and a bit of and obstacle course.

 

The infamous uncovered "temporary" Brian Moore stand is where wheelchair users are located. Luckily enough, in sunny early August that wasn't a problem , but I'm no sure that I'd fancy it on a rainy day - but of course the same goes for non-disabled supporters as well. But at least we're not cut off from our fellow visiting supporters.

 

Being allocated spaces in the front of the stand , reaching the disabled toilets isn't a problem as it merely entails a short trip to the other end of the stand and up a winded , low gradient slope. One of the (not unhelpful) stewards will either open the door or give you the key to open it. Inside the WC are two spacious, clean and disabled adapted cubicles.

 

The food and drink outlet has no lowered counters should you wish to get served unassisted.

 

All in all, whilst not perfect, there are certainly worse grounds for disabled supporters to visit.

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Mr Barry Carter

Match: Gillingham v Carlisle United

Published: 25/10/2012

 

We received a warm welcome from the steward on the players entrance door we were shown were we could park no problem parking (we parked on the street advised to us on the Gillingham www site) We were directed to the entrance for away supporters which was a good 2-300 yards up a back lane to me that was a long walk. Once inside the ground we were shown to the disabled seating area it is in the open and we were unlucky that day it rained most of the match and we were soaked to the skin.We were seated right next to the tunnel not to bad a seat. The tea/ coffee facilities were ok as was the toilet facilities.

BIG PROBLEM
We retraced our steps at the end of the match the lane linking us back to our car was locked so that left us with a trek of hundreds and hundreds of yards back to the car my carer asked the head steward why the gates were locked and could he help us he was very helpful and he escorted back past the disabled area and down the tunnel and 50 yards to our car.

SOLUTION
We were sitting next to the tunnel with a steward not 2 yards away right through the match he could have told us to wait after the match when the tunnel was clear and taken us the under 50 yds back to our car.

Very nice stadium all the Gillingham fans we met were fantastic only that problem with the access to the seats but we had a great day out even with the 700 mile round trip.

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Allan Mackillop

Match: Gillingham v Heart of Midlothian

Published: 25/10/2012

 

First of all please note that for this match away fans were admitted to the Gordon Road Stand and not the usual Brian Moore Stand.

1.Was getting information re ticketing easy and who sold them (home or away club).

Yes Hearts emailed Gillingham who provided information. However at the game itself the arrangements changed and it was pay at the gate.

2.Did you pay a “disabled concession” price? If so, how much and what proof did you need? Was the concession different for wheelchair users / ambulant disabled?

When initial contact was made the ticket for the wheelchair user and the PA was at a concession rate. When we entered the ground at the turnstile the stewards did not ask for any payment. No proof was required and as far as I know concession was the same for wheelchair users and ambulant disabled.

3.Travel arrangements –

a.Did the away club provide good information on getting to/from the ground?

No information provided on getting to/from the ground.

b.Was Car Parking provided?

Car Parking was not available only street parking which was only available due to the small crowd.

4.Were there any problems getting into stadium – ie crowd flows, signage etc

No access was very good

5.Facilities inside stadium

a.Where were the viewing position and could you see the game at all times (please provide us with photographic evidence if possible of any sightline issue (ie somebody standing in front of wheelchair areas)

Viewing position was pitchside behind the perimeter wall. Every so often a seat in the front row was missing leaving a gap for a wheelchair. People walking back and forward did block the view. Picture of myself watching game is attached.


b.Could you get to the refreshment facilities? Were there lowered counters? Did staff serve these areas efficiently? What other services were provided eg ordering/collection service?

No these were not accessible as located at the entrance to the stand. There was no ordering/collection service. My PA was ambulant disabled so to obtain refreshments would have been difficult


c.How was the disabled toilet provision?

Apologies this was not checked.

d.Was there any provision for the ambulatory disabled?

There did not appear to be any.

e.Does the club provide facilities for the hard of hearing eg match commentary or induction loop system? What can be done to improve the situation?

There did not appear to be any facilities or aids for the hard of hearing.


f.How does the club deal with Guide Dog provision?

Apologies this was not checked.

6.Leaving the ground – any problems?

No problems encountered

7.Any other comments – Please provide details of any particularly good service or other comments.

The staff and stewards were very friendly and helpful however the usual issue of poor views for wheelchair users was apparent.

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Roger Triggs

Match: Home Fan

Published: 25/10/2012

 

i been a supporter of my local football club Gillingham for over 50 years. three years ago i suffered a stroke which has left me with restricted feeling down the left hand side the only positions in gillingham's ground for disabled people is at the front of two stands. Unfortunately you get very wet if it rains. Next season i am sitting with my wife in the main stand just in front of the directors box. it is much higher than i'am used to, but is a better view. i checked it out last week and it is only seven steps i find this seating arrangement much easier to use despite having to climb seven steps.

 

Why do clubs not allow to sit where you want to? and more important where you feel much more at ease and relaxed

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