The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Sunday, 17 November

Stadiums of Unenlightenment

There has been a call for the richest football clubs in the English Premier league to improve accessibility following a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Lord Faulkener last month in the House of Lords that would give local authorities the authority to refuse a safety certificate to sports grounds that did not comply with accessible stadia guidelines.

When he gave reasons for supporting this measure, Lord Faulkner mentioned the provisions of the existing Equality Act 2010. “It is clear that many people experience great joy and a sense of belonging in being able to follow live sporting events and their local team alongside fellow fans, family and friends. But for our disabled fans, that cannot happen unless our sports stadia and venues are truly accessible and inclusive. Service providers and public venues have a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 to provide accessible facilities and to remove the barriers that may prevent disabled people from using their services.”


 

Stark statistics

The figures on how football league clubs have performed in improving accessibility are stark. Only 14 of the 92 professional football clubs in England meet football’s minimum numbers. Of these, only three Premier League clubs exceed those standards and more than one-third meet less than 50%. Top clubs not meeting the standards include Chelsea and Manchester United. Almost 1% of the population uses a wheelchair, yet Old Trafford provides only 120 wheelchair-user spaces which is equivalent to less than 0.15% of the overall stadium capacity.

Disabled fans at 55 of the 92 professional clubs have no choice but to sit with home fans as away supporters and many have stopped travelling to away games because the situation is as described by Lord Faulkner as “so awful. Disabled fans are often asked to hide their team colours and to refrain from celebrating goals. It can be an intimidating and hostile experience. They have been verbally abused and threatened and some have had coins, cigarette lighters, urine and other items thrown at them.”

Lord Faulkner deplored the attitude of rich clubs with the attitude of disabled fans who supported them but were brushed off in this matter of watching their team. “Recently, a father of three young sons, a Manchester United fan, was told to go and support Stockport County if he wished his disabled son to sit with the rest of the family. There are reports of walking aids being confiscated and of guide dogs being banned.”

 

Withdraw support

Speaking in the debate Chris Holmes, a Conservative peer and former paralympian, stated that he had written to sponsors and partners of the Premier League urging them to withdraw support if football clubs failed to improve access.

Lord Holmes went on to describe the Premier League’s progress as 'glacial' and 'shambolic' comparing its performance on access with the 'brilliant brands, fabulous market leaders with great corporate social responsibility programmes' that sponsor and support the game.

However, Disability News Service reports that it had contacted four of the Premier League’s main sponsors – Barclays, EA Sports, Carlsberg and Nike – and asked if they had responded but was told they had not criticised the lack of accessibility.

Picture: Are football clubs acting like misers when making their grounds accessible to the disabled?

Article written by Mike Gannon

Share



Related Articles

Duncan's Disabled - Peers Condemn Government

Following the convulsion of the departure of Iain Duncan Smith at the DWP, a House of Lords Select Committee report has rubbed more salt into the wounds The House of...

 Read Full Article
The Low Down on Disability - 2,500 Post Offices Fitted with Accessible Counters

The case involving Kiruna Stamell, the Australian born actress with dwarfism, who took the Post Office to a tribunal because she was having difficulties using the...

 Read Full Article
Ultraviolet Protection Explained

We are warned before we go on holiday of the dangers of the sun and ultraviolet (UV) rays but more should be done to make outdoor workers aware of the risks and how to...

 Read Full Article
Euro Court Supports G4S Headscarf Ban

A European Court of Justice ruling (week ending March 17), has upheld an employer's and their contractor's (G4S Secure Solutions) right to ban the wearing...

 Read Full Article
Fact - Work Munch Bunch Not a Hunch

New research by a money saving website in the UK has discovered that over one-third of workers in Briton have to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at work at least twice a...

 Read Full Article
Micromanagement Pressure Leads to Suicide

A worker for Staffordshire County Council was found to be under so much pressure from her management that she hanged herself according to a coroner’s...

 Read Full Article
Call for Big Firms to Declare Disabled Worker Numbers

A parliamentary debate last week has highlighted government commitments to the disabled obtaining work and the experiences of the disabled. The parliamentary debate...

 Read Full Article
This Sporting Life Damages Health

The controversial employment practices of Sports Direct has come under the spotlight with news of ambulances being called to its warehouse ‘dozens of...

 Read Full Article
Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Awards Deadline TODAY

Employers and recruiters have just hours to share their stories on their involvement with disabled talent by entering the Recruitment Industry Disability (RIDI)...

 Read Full Article
Disability Barriers to Finding Work

Up to 85% of disabled people find that their condition has an impact when job-hunting, according to new research. The findings come from the Recruitment Industry...

 Read Full Article