It’s that time of year again with many clubs and venues currently selling season and match tickets for the year ahead.
Some clubs have made changes to their policies and ticket prices and LPF has been contacted by a number of disabled fans and clubs to seek clarification or to report concerns and issues. So we thought it would be helpful to share our guidance on this topic.
LPF’s primary starting point is that disabled spectator ticketing policies and local pricing are a matter for the club or venue, as the service provider, but these should always be agreed in consultation with the club or venue’s own disabled spectators and customers.
There should be parity between the ticketing policies and procedures (including ticket sales, home and away allocations, loyalty systems and hospitality tickets) on offer both to non-disabled spectators and disabled spectators. For example, if match day and season tickets can be purchased by non-disabled spectators online via the club or stadium website, at the ticket box office or by phone, then the same access to these services should be available to disabled spectators.
It is also important that the ticketing department is able to provide accessible facilities and services for its disabled spectators to ensure this parity; and the club may need to make further adjustments to ensure that this is the case.
Staff should receive disability awareness training and be able to meet the access needs of disabled customers who may be in contact. Websites should be accessible and phone lines should include a text-to-speech service (for deaf customers) and so on. Further guidance on these matters can be found in section G:1 “Contacting the club” of the UEFA and CAFE Good Practice Guide to Creating an Accessible Stadium and Matchday Experience – Access for All which is available on the LPF website.
Where existing facilities and services do not match best practice or even meet minimum requirements, some clubs and venues have chosen to offer lower price ticketing concessions based on delivering poorer access and LPF would strongly advise that a club or venue looks to improve its quantity and quality of accessible services and facilities available to disabled people, to fairly meet the local demand, rather than continue to rely on compensatory concessions and schemes only.
It is important to recognise the difference between a concession and ‘reasonable adjustments’. A concession is purely a financial ticketing issue and is something that is offered by a service provider such as a club, often as a gesture of goodwill towards a specific group (i.e. retired, youth, etc.), low income (unemployed, incapacity benefits, etc.), student and so on.
Alternatively, the concession may be offered by way of compensation for less adequate seating provisions. For example, a small section of a seating area within a stand may offer restricted views due to a pillar or roof truss. Spectators should be informed of this viewing deficit before purchasing a ticket and would expect to pay a lower (or concessionary) ticket price. However, the spectator would have a choice as to whether to sit in this location or to purchase a seat in another part of the stadium or venue.
For disabled spectators, clubs might offer concessionary prices due to:
1) Restricted numbers of accessible seats or spaces (e.g. accessible seating numbers are below minimum standards and don’t fairly meet demand);
2) More limited or no choices of seating areas available to disabled customers;
3) Lack of accessible services (e.g. the club or venue does not currently provide audio-descriptive commentary for partially sighted or blind fans);
4) Poor quality accessible seating (e.g. limited views (sightlines), PA / companions not sat alongside, no provision for disabled away football fans to sit with their own fans as routinely provided to non-disabled fans)
Where a ticketing concession is made, it should be made for all disabled people and not just for a particular group of disabled people. The only exception might be where a particular group of disabled people (e.g. wheelchair users) have more limited access to the facilities and services, such as an obstructed view of the pitch or less choice or availability (below minimum standards).
Any concessionary price offered in such circumstances should be seen as a short-term solution only and the existing facilities and services should be improved at the earliest opportunity. It is important to note that service providers, such as sporting clubs and venues, would not be immune from legal action because they offered free or cheaper tickets in such situations.
LPF’s view is that, in an ideal world concessionary pricing related to accessibility would not be required, as everyone will be treated equally. However, this is clearly not the case at the moment with many sporting venues continuing to offer below standard facilities and services to disabled customers and a limited choice of seating provisions.
Level Playing Field actively encourages clubs to consult with their own disabled spectators and Disabled Supporters Associations (where they exist) before deciding on the club’s own disabled supporters ticketing policies and procedures. It is LPF’s view that the policy adopted should always be informed by good practice guidance and in line with equality legislation.
The Football Association and Premier and Football Leagues have issued clear guidance on disabled supporter ticketing management and our own guidance is based on these guidance documents, advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, equality legislation and the social model of disability (as adopted by leading disability organisations across the UK).
The Level Playing Field guidance document has been written to offer good practice guidance to clubs, venues and fans and to help ensure equality of spectator experiences for all so that disabled people can enjoy live sports as a problem free experience.
For further information, including guidance on PA / companion tickets and seeking ‘proof of disability’, please view the full document,
We would recommend you read this guidance document in full, and please don’t hesitate to contact the LPF office if you need further advice or support.