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2016 – A Year in Review

In what has been another busy and important year for Level Playing Field and our topic, we take a moment to review the highlights and news stories of 2016.Headlines


In Parliament

Access and Inclusion to sports stadia has once again never been too far from the Parliamentary agenda, and in May LPF were called to provide evidence to the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee Accessibility of Sports Stadia Inquiry. Then LPF Chair, Joyce Cook OBE & General Manager Ruth Hopkins both gave evidence speaking about the need for better access to sports stadia. Read more.

LPF also welcomed the House of Lords Select Committee report on the Equality Act 2010 & Disability which called for Government to impose a change in legislation that would ensure fully accessible stadia. Read more. You can also read the Government response to the report here.

Premier League Access Pledge

In September 2015 the Premier League pledged that all its clubs would meet the minimum Accessible Stadia numbers by August 2017. LPF welcomed the news and continues to offer support and guidance but during 2016 it was becoming evident that a number of clubs were going to miss the 2017 deadline. LPF and the Equality & Human Rights Commission published a press release in response to news articles on the subject and we will continue to monitor progress as we move into 2017. Read more.

Congratulations Ruth!

In early 2016, it was announced that Ruth Hopkins was to be promoted to the role of General Manager. Ruth, who has worked at LPF since 2013, continues to lead on our Access and Development projects.

Good luck Joyce!

We would also like to send our best wishes to former Chair, Joyce Cook OBE, who recently took on a senior role with FIFA. 

Joyce was Chair of Level Playing Field since 2007 and had overseen the extraordinary growth of the organisation which has put access and inclusion for disabled spectators at the very top of the agenda.

We wish Joyce all the best in her new role.

News Coverage


Here are some selected stories from 2016 where LPF were in the news:


BBC: Inside Out: Football League clubs ‘failing to meet disabled guidelines’

CNN: The Betrayal of Disabled Fans by Premier League Clubs (Video)

Telegraph: Up to third of Premier League clubs to miss deadline for disability access

The FA: Short film on access to sports stadia launched on World Disability Day 2016


Our Works


Access Audits

LPF have continued to deliver professional access audits which are undertaken by NRAC auditors specialising in sporting venues and has completed audits at Football, Rugby and Cricket venues in 2016. More about our Access Audit service here.


This year has seen the successful implementation of our bespoke ‘Disability Inclusion & Etiquette Training’ service which aims to raise awareness around disability issues for staff, decision makers and stakeholders at sporting venues.

Club Mediation

Our club mediation service for clubs, individuals and fan groups to help resolve issues affecting disabled supporters has proved more popular than ever. In 2016, we have dealt with numerous mediation enquiries covering a wide range of access issues at sports stadia.

Read about our services here.

Working Together Project


It has been another successful year for our Working Together project which has seen its continued development in supporting the establishment and growth of user led Disabled Supporters Associations (DSAs).

LPF were proud to help establish and attend the first Welsh Regional Forum where DSAs and club representatives came together to network and share best practice. Hosted by Newport County FC, the event was a great success with representatives from clubs from across the Football pyramid in attendance. Read more.

Elsewhere, the second Couth Coast Regional Forum was held at Crawley Town FC and once again was a great success with Level Playing Field General Manager Ruth Hopkins invited to speak alongside representatives from clubs and DSAs. Read more.

We are also looking forward to the inaugural North West Regional Forum which will take place in early 2017 at Manchester City FC. Read more.

We also were delighted to help support the establishment of 4 new DSAs in 2016, which you can read about below:

Crystal Palace





Weeks of Action 2016


Our annual Weeks of Action campaign was a huge success with more clubs, Disabled Supporters Associations, partners and fans participating than ever before.

There were a range of activities and events going on around the grounds celebrating access and inclusion throughout all levels of the football pyramid. Backed by the Football League and the FA, the campaign gained significant coverage on social media with many clubs, fans and partners posting messages supporting Weeks of Action and its aim of gaining exposure for our topic.

You can recap the highlights of Weeks of Action 2016 here.


Things that made us smile


Here are a selection of stories that made us smile during 2016:


Football League supporter of the year is young disabled fan, Oskar Pycroft

Everton fans unite to give Noah Cunningham an amazing 12th birthday

Tony Clough awarded MBE for his Changing Places campaign work

Young Liverpool fan with cerebral palsy invited by club to watch team train

Young disabled fan wins Everton goal of the month

Rafa Benitez drops in at Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association party

We would like to thank you for your support during 2016, and wish everyone a very happy new year and an enjoyable 2017!