The partnership will offer support and guidance to non-league clubs across the division who are looking to appeal to a wider range of supporters and improve disabled access at their grounds.
Fans for Diversity campaigns officer Maria Horner said: “We’d like to create a culture of understanding which, ultimately, results in more disabled fans coming to games and supporting their local side.”
Clubs in the Northern Premier League can sign up to the new ‘Disability Inclusion Charter’, created by Fans for Diversity and Level Playing Field, to receive specialist advice on their facilities and how they can improve.
“Part of that comes down to accessibility and facilities,” Maria said. “But we also want to try and shine a light on and share some of the positive steps that clubs are taking to make sure football is a welcoming environment.”
The charter will demonstrate to clubs that improving access is not just about large capital projects like installing ramps and electric wheelchair lifts – but the many small, low cost ways non-league grounds can be improved for disabled supporters.
Level Playing Field’s Ruth Hopkins said: “This partnership aims to unlock opportunities for clubs to enhance their facilities and open its doors to more disabled fans.” Ruth went on to say “There are a number of low cost and no costs ways to make your clubs accessible to disabled people and signing up to this charter and working with LPF and FSF will be the first step in making improvements and enhancing your club’s reputation.”
Clubs in the Northern Premier League will receive an information pack explaining the aims of the charter and be invited to attend presentation sessions that will raise awareness and help club staff understand the needs of disabled supporters.
“At our level of the game football must be accessible to all parts of the community,” said Northern Premier League chairman Mark Harris. “So we fully support a programme of better education for clubs that will help them expand their support base and offer a better fan experience.”