Level Playing Field welcomes the Accessibility of Sports Stadia report which highlights many of the physical and attitudinal barriers still being faced by disabled sports fans.
The Committee states: “It is very clear that sports clubs, notably many of those with very considerable income and resources, have not given priority to sports fans with disabilities in recent years, despite the increase in income many of those clubs have received”.
Collating the evidence given to Committee and the Inclusive and Accessible Stadia survey results, the report validates many of the issues LPF has been campaigning for. This includes the lack of accessible information about fixtures and facilities, difficulties booking tickets, inaccessible transport, availability of appropriate seating and provision for fans with hearing and sight loss.
The report goes on to say that the work being done by a number of football clubs in meeting both the letter and the spirit of the Disability Discrimination Act (Equality Act 2010) is applauded along with rugby league, rugby union and county cricket taking the issue seriously, but the Committee considers it completely unacceptable that a number of Premier League football clubs – some of the richest sporting organisations in the UK – have failed to carry out even basic adaptations in over 20 years.
Lord Holmes of the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said: “It is high time that sports clubs, particularly those with available finance such as those in football’s Premier League, changed their mind-set. It is more a question of will than resources”.
The EHRC said that it is minded to start legal proceedings against clubs that continue to flout the law and the Committee has said it will support them in this action.
Tony Taylor, Chair of Level Playing Field said: “This hard hitting report confirms what we as an organisation have been saying for many years – that all too often, disabled sports fans have an inequality of matchday experience. The government (through its ‘Framework for a New Sport Strategy’) has recognised that the ability to experience live sport as spectators is just as important as direct participation on the sports field. We know from our own personal experiences that attending a football match or other sporting event really does make a difference for disabled people. We will continue to provide expert user-led advice to clubs to facilitate this, but also to ensure that disabled fans do not have barriers placed before them when buying their tickets and can turn up at a game with the minimum of fuss, taking their place alongside fellow supporters to support their teams. Surely, in the 21st Century, that is not too much to ask?”.
“On a positive note, I am delighted to state that we understand that West Ham United now not only meets, but exceeds the requirements for wheelchair user spaces in accessible stadia”.
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