Fulham FC have released a short video to show the facilities and services available to disabled supporters at Craven Cottage.
The four minute clip details how two fans in particular arrive at and get around the stadium. Charles Blomfield, a wheelchair user and season ticket holder, is shown arriving at the stadium via accessible travel, buying his matchday programme and making his way to his seat. Charles says that he finds the stewards to be really helpful, and can be dropped off right outside the stadium.
Another fan featured is John Bird, a lifelong Fulham supporter who attended his first match in 1928 and is also a season ticket holder. John says that it is not always easy for him to navigate around large crowds, and so the Fulham Access stewards offer him great support in getting around the stadium. One of the Access stewards featured, Tony Littlefield, is heard to say that he and his colleagues take great pleasure in providing this service for both home and away disabled supporters.
It isn’t all great news however, as Craven Cottage currently only has space for 41 wheelchair users and given the stadium capacity, they should have at least 165 spaces (ie they currently only meet 24.8% of the minimum requirements as set out in the Accessible Stadia Guide.
The club are aware of the deficiencies and have recently had a LPF Access Audit carried out by an qualified NRAC registered auditor. Craven Cottage is one of the oldest stadiums in English football, and both the Johnny Haynes Stand and the cottage itself are Grade II listed buildings. Despite this, the club have been able to make other, more inventive modifications to improve accessibility and provide a better service for disabled supporters. We feel that this is a great example that improving accessibility at stadiums does not have to be a long and costly exercise, and that even the oldest stadiums can easily be modified.
Given the difficult location, news of the proposed rebuilding of the Riverside stand has given the club an opportunity to considerably improve the overall provision for disabled supporters. LPF have been working with the club on these plans and we are pleased to report that the club will not only be providing the recommended 1% provision in that stand but they have taken on board our comments and will add extra seats to help improve the under-provision in the other stands.
The proposals will increase capacity from 41 to just over 100 which, whilst still substantially below the recommended numbers, is a considerable improvement (they are more than doubling the number of spaces and will include some elevated positions for the first time). The club also agreed to work with the Auditor and LPF to see if smaller works could be undertaken in the remaining 3 stands to increase disabled provision.