The session provided a brief opportunity to outline key issues and experience where football governance needed to be improved to account for disabled fans and other matters relating to disability.
In the time permitted, the key areas raised were focused on the representation of disabled people at the board level, regulatory obligations and bodies and fan voice/consultation.
Board representation of disabled people/fans at exec and non-exec level
- Allows for disability matters to have a suitable and non-tokenistic platform that can be weaved into the overarching governance at a club and governing body level.
- Implementing a ‘comply or explain’ style agreement with clubs to ensure it’s prioritised.
- A case of prioritising it, and it will get done.
Regulatory obligations and bodies
- Level Playing Field believes that the most significant catalyst to change for disabled football fans in recent time has been the Premier League pledge. It highlights a case of what gets measured gets done.
- Having both a set of clear, measurable minimum accessible standards along with a regulator/regulatory system would deliver greater access and inclusion and, more so, a fundamental human right.
- Outlines clear standards which take into account disability inclusion and other matters.
- Having a formal process recognised and reviewed by the board is essential for delivering representative governance.
- Having board involvement with disabled fan engagement further demonstrates a commitment to matters relating to disability and can be included in the governance framework.
- Structured dialogue needs to be an ongoing process, inclusive and varied (meetings, at matchdays, surveys and other formats)
- Disabled fan engagement needs to be standalone from non-disabled fan engagement and not bolted on.
Level Playing Field chair Tony Taylor, said: “It’s important that disabled fans are represented in this review with disabled people being the largest minority group in the UK (14 Million people) and yet on occasions an afterthought or under prioritised in football governance.
“Therefore, this report can be critical in delivering better fan engagement and allowing governance to be representative and proactively included in areas directly relating to disability inclusion and other matters.”
Level Playing Field will be submitting written evidence to support and build on points discussed during the oral evidence session, along with points that couldn’t be raised due to the short amount of time available. We have openly gathered feedback from disabled fans and Disabled Supporters Associations over the past months where their voices will be included in the final written submission.
We invite all disabled football fans to actively raise their opinions (in line with the review guidance) to fan liaison officer Liam Bird (email@example.com) by 29th June 2021.
Level Playing Field believes that this is an opportunity to ensure that disabled peoples, voices are included and listened to. In turn, this allows for representative governance which will provide a platform to improve matchday experiences for disabled fans across the football leagues.