Premier League clubs to make changes for disabled fans

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Archive: Changes promised for disabled fans

All Premier League clubs have agreed to improve access for disabled supporters by August 2017.

A 2014 BBC investigation found that 17 of England's top-flight clubs failed to provide enough wheelchair spaces.

At the moment, 15 out of 20 clubs will have to increase capacity to comply with guidelines on accessible stadiums.

Earlier on Monday, a government report had criticised the inadequate facilities and support for disabled fans at Premier League grounds.

Minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson MP had said "common sense can fix" some issues, but accepted other areas "will need some work".

"Frankly, some of it is disgraceful," he told BBC Sport. "There isn't provision in some grounds, supporters are split up or are put in with the away fans. I find that totally unacceptable.

"We are in the last chance saloon with those football bodies saying: 'You need to get your house in order.' We need to get this addressed."

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Archive: Disabled fans 'discriminated against'

A Premier League statement said: "We are undertaking our own assessment by surveying every Premier League stadium to determine improvements for disabled access.

"Disability access was discussed at the Premier League shareholders meeting last week with several new proposals agreed."

Monday's report - done jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Culture, Media and Sport - recommends:

  • Planning attendance: Clubs should provide attendance for all groups of disabled people. They should provide information such as stadium distance from local parking and gradient of pavements.
  • Buying a ticket: Clubs should allow disabled spectators to buy tickets online. They should provide wheelchair seating that allows disabled spectators to sit with family and friends.
  • Travelling to and from the venue: Clubs should provide up to date transport information.
  • Overall experience: Match day and club stewards should be given disability awareness training, while abusive behaviour towards disabled spectators should not be tolerated.
  • Aids and adaptations: Clubs should increase the number of wheelchair user places for stadiums with more than 10,000 seats.

In August, a survey carried out by charity Revitalise before the start of the new Premier League season suggested that many clubs are continuing to fail disabled fans.

It followed the second reading of the Accessible Sports Grounds Bill in the House of Lords in July, where Lord Holmes of Richmond - Britain's most successful Paralympic swimmer - called on Premier League sponsors and broadcasters to pull out of football unless progress was made in providing facilities for disabled fans.

In June, top-flight clubs were threatened with legal action after the Equality and Human Rights Commission said it had received a number of complaints, including about Manchester United removing walking aids from away fans.

At the time United said it was "actively working" with its own disabled supporters association and the Premier League to "assess areas for potential improvement".

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