Press release

Bid to improve disabled access at sports stadiums

The government is calling on disabled sports fans to share their experiences of viewing live sport at stadiums and sports grounds across Britain.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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The government is calling on disabled sports fans to share their experiences of viewing live sport at stadiums and sports grounds across Britain, in what it hopes will be the largest ever survey of its kind.

Ministers are hoping thousands of Britain’s 12 million disabled people will give their views on everything from wheelchair access and disabled parking to accessible toilets, hearing loops and treatment by other supporters at live sporting fixtures. Organisers want to hear from fans of all sports – and in particular rugby, cricket, football, hockey, basketball, cycling and motor-racing.

Earlier this year the government called on Britain’s football leagues to take urgent action to redress some of the “woeful” lack of appropriate support and space for disabled spectators, reminding them of their legal obligations to provide adequate room and adjustments for disabled fans.

Research showed nearly half of Premier League football clubs don’t offer even half the wheelchair space they should for disabled people.

Mark Harper, Minister of State for Disabled People, said:

For too long in this country disabled sports fans have been treated like second class citizens at many sporting venues. And yet 1 in 5 of us have an impairment, and disabled people and their households have a spending power of over £200 billion.

We know the situation in football is unacceptable and it’s not only wheelchair access that falls short, but adjustments for people with all kinds of impairments. We encourage all sports fans with a disability to tell us of their experiences at sporting venues, so we can get a clear picture of whether disabled sports fans are being treated fairly.

Meanwhile, evidence from Level Playing Field has revealed that as many as half of Premier League football clubs operate season ticket policies which could be deemed as discriminatory against disabled sports fans.

Evidence has emerged of clubs operating complex pre-registration systems for disabled supporters to qualify for season tickets which are not applied to fans without disabilities. Level Playing Field have also uncovered that many clubs allocate disproportionately small numbers of season tickets to wheelchair users and exclude disabled people from using their online ticketing services.

Minister for Sport Helen Grant said:

We know that lots of clubs, like Arsenal, are making improvements but more can still be done across sport to make stadiums more accessible and the match-day experience better for disabled fans. This is what this survey is all about – giving disabled sports fans the chance to air their views so that we can help make watching live sport fantastic for them.

The Commonwealth Games this summer showed what is possible and how sport can cater brilliantly for disabled fans and I am confident that sports governing bodies will step up and deliver on this.

Joyce Cook from Level Playing Field said:

The experience of disabled sports fans varies across the country. Our research shows that many clubs are operating what seem to be discriminatory policies when it comes to season and away tickets. And if you can actually get there, the inability to sit with your own fans, poor sight lines and the lack of accessible provisions can be so bad that you would have had a better experience watching it on TV. That’s not acceptable and it’s time all clubs and venues took their legal obligations seriously – and recognised the value of the purple pound.

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Published 2 January 2015