Anfield: Liverpool to create more spaces for disabled fans

Anfield
Anfield will move 1,000 general admission seats as part of the changes

Liverpool are to "significantly redevelop" their Anfield stadium in the summer, to make it more accessible to disabled fans.

The work, scheduled to be completed by August, will see 1,000 seats moved, and affect some season ticket holders.

More than 250 wheelchair positions will be available with visiting disabled fans given places in the away end.

A 2014 BBC investigation found the club offered 45% of the recommended number of wheelchair spaces.

Current guidelines on how football clubs in the United Kingdom should cater for disabled spectators have been in place since 2004 in the form of the Accessible Stadia Guide.

In 2015, the Premier League promised to improve stadium facilities for disabled fans, stating that clubs would comply with official guidance by August 2017.

Liverpool were one of the clubs who were likely to miss the deadline, until Tuesday's announcement.

They say the redevelopment will allow the club to meet the recommended requirements of the Accessible Stadia guide.

It follows a similar announcement by Manchester United last week.

The work at Liverpool includes new disabled bays in the Centenary Stand for home supporters, 150 extra amenity and easy access seats around the stadium and improved viewing positions for visiting disabled supporters.

Responding to the moving of 1,000 general admission seats, Liverpool say they are "committed to mitigating the seat loss" and will work with affected season ticket holders to find an alternative seat.

What have the club said?

Andrew Parkinson, operations director at Liverpool.

"As a football club, we have a long-standing commitment to supporting our disabled fans and making changes to the stadium to improve their matchday experience.

"Over the past five years, we have made an incredible amount of progress by working with our disabled fans to listen and understand the areas that need improvements that are important to them.

"Making these further developments this summer will see Anfield Stadium achieving the required number of wheelchair positions as stated in the Accessible Stadia Guide."

Reaction

Joint statement from Keith Graham, Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association chair and Katie Price, disabled supporters representative on the Supporters Committee.

"The proposed work is the culmination of many years of dialogue. We have always advocated the need for increased accessibility at Anfield, for all disabled supporters, in order to meet the recommended requirements of the Accessible Stadia Guide.

"We welcome LFC's commitment to making this a reality by August 2017 and look forward to greater numbers of disabled supporters having the opportunity to attend matches at Anfield."

Tony Taylor, chair of disability charity Level playing field told BBC Sport:

"We are delighted we have got a Premier League club who will meet the Premier League's self-imposed pledge. It is good news for Liverpool, good news for Liverpool's disabled fans and good news for disabled fans visiting the ground.

"This is not just spaces for home fans but for away fans, it is a common issue that disabled fans are often stuck in the middle of home fans, which does not make for a comfortable experience, so this is a really good news story.

"One of the obstacles which often gets in the way of wheelchair accessibility and viewing spaces in older grounds is construction issues, but Liverpool have shown it can be achieved in these sorts of grounds, and you do not have to wait for a brand new stadium to be built."

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