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Telegraph: Government accuses some Premier League clubs of ‘failing’ disabled supporters

By Jeremy Wilson, The Telegraph

The Government has accused some Premier League clubs of “failing” disabled people over its lack of accessible facilities and warned that they are now facing their last chance to meet a collective pledge to provide minimum standards.

Following a series of stories by The Telegraph, the clubs all promised in 2015 that, by September 2017, they would meet the requirements set out in the Accessible Stadia Guide and which were first conceived and agreed by clubs almost 20 years ago.

However, despite repeated warnings from Government, the charity Level Playing Field and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), it is expected that some will fall short. The EHRC is already preparing to take legal actions against the worst offenders but there is still a hope that the offending clubs will seize the next month and urgently make the necessary provisions.


“Premier League clubs have a duty to set an example to sports clubs all over the country, but far too many are still failing disabled people,” said Penny Mordaunt, the minister for disabled people, work and wealth. “Owners, managers and players come and go – it is the fans that remain constant and disabled supporters must be given equal priority.”

The EHRC published a study in April after asking clubs to answer a series of key questions regarding their provision for disabled fans. They described some of the responses as “appalling”. At that time, they found that a majority of clubs were still not providing the minimum recommended spaces for wheelchair users.


They also found that just seven out of the 20 clubs are providing the larger ‘changing place’ toilet facility and that there were even seven clubs who are not meeting a Premier League requirement to publish a disability access statement to provide key information for visiting fans.  

The EHRC has regularly cited the Equality Act 2010 which requires venues to make “reasonable adjustments” and says the failure to make those adjustments amounts to unlawful discrimination. The definition of “reasonable adjustments” is clearly open to interpretation, with clubs having claimed that the age and structure of older stadiums have caused difficulties. Many clubs have also committed to major work this summer ahead of the new season.

 With the collective cost of the changes estimated at £7.2 million – and the Premier League currently in the second season of an £8.3 billion television deal – Level Playing Field are adamant that it is simply a question of will. “Whilst we acknowledge that progress has been made in recent times, the reality is that disabled sports fans still face an inequality of matchday experience when compared to non-disabled supporters,” said Tony Taylor, the chair of Level Playing Field.  “The Premier League clubs, with all of their significant wealth, should be at the forefront of that change. We urge the clubs to do the right thing and deliver on their own pledge made in 2015. “We would, of course, like to congratulate those clubs that will be meeting the minimum access standards by the deadline. To those who have yet to make the necessary improvements, we urge them to treat this as a priority for action – disabled fans have waited long enough.”

There are currently more than 11 million disabled people in the United Kingdom.

From: The Telegraph