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LPF welcomes comments from Lord Ouseley on issues surrounding disability access

Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out, believes momentum is gathering as professional football clubs come under increasing scrutiny to improve their provisions for disabled supporters. Lord Ouseley feels the ‘pressure for legislation to enforce standards’ will become greater if clubs do not tackle issues regarding access more ‘urgently and effectively’.


Lord Ouseley said: “When we consider issues of equality, diversity, prejudice, discrimination and exclusion in football, it would not be unreasonable to say that the needs of disabled people are inadequately priorities for positive action. Declarations from the authorities in the sport of zero tolerance against all forms of discrimination sound good but does not always translate in equality outcomes for many disabled people seeking to work and watch football.

“This deficiency is coming under increasing scrutiny, especially with the highlighted lack of adequate provision of wheelchair spaces for football fans at many of the grounds used by top clubs where match day attendance demands are often overwhelming. Disability access campaigning group, Level Playing Field (LPF), led by Joyce Cook OBE, has been in the forefront of championing the need for more spaces and appropriate facilities for disabled fans and the issue has been taken up by politicians, including the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and also the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

“There is already a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010, for service providers to have to provide accessible facilities and to remove any barriers preventing disabled people from using their services and the EHRC has hinted that it may be minded to use its enforcement powers with regard to named football clubs considered to be failing to comply with the law or even to meet the “Accessible Stadia Guidelines”.

“More pressure is likely to come on football clubs during the next parliamentary session when further consideration will be given to the Accessible Sports Ground Bill, introduced by Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who is a distinguished long-standing campaigner and advocate for disabled people’s equal rights and a Vice-President of LPF. The Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on 17 July, when extensive criticisms were levied against the attitudes and approaches of some football clubs in their responses to the demands for better provision of spaces and facilities for disabled fans.

“During the debate, there were also examples of good practices experienced by disabled fans which were cited as models for others to follow and had been achieved, in spite of having to overcome many of the same pressures faced by other clubs, which were using those challenges as excuses to justify their shortcomings in meeting the reasonable equality treatment of their disabled fans.

“Ideally, and notwithstanding the often overwhelming waiting lists for tickets, especially for Premier League matches, the clubs involved would voluntarily want to do more and be seen to be doing more in positively improving their numbers of disabled places. It is not an easy problem to be resolved with all the competing demands for spaces at their football grounds but, if not tackled more urgently and effectively, and be seen to be doing so, the pressure for legislation to enforce standards, through the possible denial of ground safety certificate approval will gather momentum.”

Article reproduced from Kick It Out