Nottingham

Notts County opens sensory suites for autistic fans

Special sensory suite at Notts County
Image caption The sensory suites at Notts County ground are equipped with soft play areas and subdued lighting

Four executive suites at Notts County Football Club have been opened for fans with autism, to allow them to attend matches comfortably.

The noise at football grounds can prevent some fans with autism from going to games, Notts County ambassador Les Bradd said.

The club is the second in England, after Sunderland, to open dedicated sensory facilities for autistic fans.

The rooms are furnished with soft toys, bubble tubes and ear defenders.

The club completed training with Autism East Midlands as part of developing the rooms and has pledged to become more autism-friendly in future, by signing the Autism Charter.

Notts County head groundsman Trevor Hutchinson, whose daughter has autism, said his ground crew had worked for weeks to get the three suites ready.

"It's an opportunity for children (with autism) to come and watch football in a safe and relaxing and quiet environment.

Image caption The four executive suites were created as a "safe and relaxing environment" for fans with autism

"These children wouldn't be able to do this if the rooms weren't available."

"Ninety-nine per cent of parents wouldn't take the chance to come to a match because they know it would be a nightmare - they think their child might fall down a stair or knock a drink out of someone's hands."

Mr Bradd, who is the all-time scoring leader for the club, said: "It is a huge step forward - we are bringing in different types of fans who couldn't attend matches before because they couldn't cope with the noise and couldn't cope with where they had to sit."

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