Level Playing Field has welcomed the Premier League Accessible Stadia Guidelines Report.
In September 2015, the clubs pledged to meet the Accessible Stadia guidelines by their self-imposed deadline of August 2017 and earlier this year it was clear that a number of clubs would not achieve this. We hope that those clubs that have failed to meet the pledge will have identified the work they still have to do and have credible plans in place.
Tony Taylor, Chair of Level Playing Field said:
“LPF has worked for almost twenty years to ensure disabled football fans have a fully inclusive match day experience. That has to include the removal of physical and procedural barriers, along with the provision of appropriate facilities and services for all disabled people. We were delighted when the Premier League Clubs made a commitment to meet their pledge two years ago. We saw this as an opportunity for the clubs to set the benchmark for all sports stadia and to demonstrate what can be achieved.”
“We are therefore disappointed that a number of clubs have failed to meet the requirements of that self- imposed pledge and have let their disabled fans down. We are seeking urgent assurance regarding what happens next and how much longer the existing Premier League clubs will be given to meet their obligations. LPF welcomes the Premier League Board’s decision that newly promoted clubs will be required to meet the terms of the 2015 Shareholders’ resolution, and disabled supporters must know ultimately what sanctions will be put in place for those clubs who persistently fail to meet their obligations.”
“It’s not all bad news and LPF is keen to recognise the improvements that have been made. There are now more wheelchair user spaces at Premier League football clubs than ever before, more easy access and amenity seats have been identified, more Changing Places facilities provided, more Sensory Rooms and more Audio Descriptive Commentary (ADC) provision. Every Premier League football club now has a Disability Access Officer (DAO) who liaises directly with disabled fans.”
“West Bromwich Albion FC, for example, is a club that has made incredible changes for disabled fans since the pledge was announced. The club operates from an older stadium, but has still managed to meet the Accessible Stadia numbers for wheelchair users (Home and Away), installed easy access and amenity seats, provided additional accessible toilets, a state of the art Changing Places facility, a Sensory Room, accessible refreshment areas and new signage. This just goes to show what can be done and they should be congratulated. The club is now working closely with its Foundation to reach out to the community so that disabled people know there are more spaces and seats available for them at The Hawthorns and that they will be made welcome”.
Accessibility at Sports Stadia for Disabled People is now high on the agenda for government, the media, clubs, leagues and disabled people themselves.
LPF will continue to meet regularly with the Premier League’s Supporter Relations team to provide support and expertise to clubs and disabled fans. Naturally we will monitor the situation at the Premier League clubs and throughout the football pyramid going forward.
In response to the report, the EHRC has issued the following statement:
“Today’s report from the Premier League is a step in the right direction, but it is clear that some clubs still have a way to go to meet the needs of disabled supporters. We have met with every single Premier League club and are now in the final stages of discussions to agree on specific action they will need to take to avoid facing legal action. We will be publishing our report shortly.”
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