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Return of Supporters into Stadiums

What can we expect when supporters return to sports stadia? We spoke to Sports Ground Safety Authority Inspector Rick Riding to find out.

With governments in England and Wales announcement of the possibility of partial opening of sports stadiums in October, Level Playing Field announced that on Tuesday 18th August they would be hosting the first of a series of webinar and forums to discuss the opening of stadia in England and Wales with  Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) Inspector, Rick Riding as guest speaker.

Below is the Webinar in full.

With 90 people in attendance for the hour-long webinar, including members from Disabled Supporter Association (DSAs), club and league representation from the Premiership, EFL, National League and below, Level Playing Field Fans Liaison Officer, Liam opened the webinar and welcomed guests and handed over to Rick.

Rick took the time to explain some of the SGSA’s guidance to sporting clubs to enable stadiums to effectively plan for the re admittance of supporters back into stadia. Focusing on how these changes might affect disabled supporters moving forward.

Some of the key notes from the 20-minute presentations were…

  • There is no set % of the total capacity, each stadium will need to follow the SG02 guide (Clubs and supporters can find the final version of the ‘SG20 Planning for social distancing at sports grounds guidance’ via this link) to determine a Social Distance capacity. This capacity will vary at every stadium dependent of ingress, circulation, egress, and local transport capabilities.
  • Supporters may be asked to arrive at staggered times to avoid overcrowding but clubs should allow flexibility.
  • Any social distancing planning should not impact on the movement of disabled supporters.
  • All fans attending game should sign up to a Track & Trace system.
  • Wearing of masks/face coverings is for the club to decide and operate but there needs to be a flexibility depending on the supporters needs
  • SGSA will be hosting more webinars (open to all) in September.

After Ricks presentation, Liam asked a series of questions that have been submitted by supporters and club representatives in attendance, these questions included mask wearing, accessible bathroom use, logistical issues, parking and public transport concerns, support for blind and partially sighted supporters, seating arrangements and guidance regarding supporter assistance.

Rick answered as many questions as possible and all questions that were not answered were logged and these questions were answered after the webinar.

Level Playing Field, General Manager & Head of Access and Development Ruth Hopkins:

“During these unprecedented times, many of us are eager to return to watching live sport, but before we do so we want to be sure we have as much information about what to expect as possible. Having that knowledge will help us all to make informed decisions about when we attend”

“There are so many questions and uncertainties still, and we are very grateful to Rick Riding from SGSA for taking the time to explain the latest guidance for sports clubs and how it will impact on disabled spectators particularly. His presentation and answers to questions from attendees at this webinar will help us all to have a better understanding about how our match days are likely to change”

“Level Playing Field will continue to work closely with SGSA, Governing Bodies and the clubs and fans themselves to ensure disabled spectators are not being overlooked and appropriate measures are being put in place for supporters return to stadia.”

Throughout September and moving forward Level Playing Field will be hosting a series of webinar and forums to support and inform disabled supporters and clubs to navigate this period of uncertainty. Make sure you are always the first to know of such events and articles by signing up to be a Level Playing Field member; membership is free of charge and you can find out more by clicking here.