Persistent standing is an ongoing problem for many disabled football fans when others (often fans from their own team) stand in front or to the side of wheelchair users and ambulant disabled fans. Level Playing Field regularly receives complaints from matches across the football pyramid with photographic evidence of compromised views and sometimes a reluctance for stewards to get involved.
If parts of the ground are to become designated standing areas it is only right that they are safe from crowd surges and crowd collapse and that disabled people have the opportunity to watch the game from these areas too. Level Playing Field has always campaigned for the importance of choice; that facilities for disabled fans are available in all areas of the ground.
The interim report states that wheelchair user platforms can be incorporated into seating areas with barriers. In our opinion this will need to be tested and closely monitored on match days by stewards who are disability awareness trained.
Level Playing Field Chair, Tony Taylor said:
“Level Playing Field follows the research into safe standing at football grounds closely and was pleased to be consulted during the research when we prioritised disabled fans’ experiences.
It is reassuring therefore, to read that facilities for disabled fans are not being overlooked and consideration will be given to incorporating wheelchair user platforms into any designated standing areas. However, this is only an interim report and we would be very cautious about a blanket decision without much further research and consultation.”
“In the meantime, we encourage all disabled fans to provide feedback about their match day experience so that we can provide support and work with the clubs to make improvements”
Link to SGSA Report
Link to BBC Report