Manchester United defend stewards for removing walking aids

Old Trafford
Manchester United have denied that they discriminated against disabled fans

Manchester United have defended the conduct of their stewards after they removed walking aids from a number of disabled Arsenal fans.

One complaint sent to the charity Level Playing Field alleged that a man in his eighties had his crutches taken off him before the 17 May fixture.

United say fans using walking aids need to contact the club in advance to be risk-assessed.

"We've experienced such devices being used as weapons," a club official said.

"Where supporters arrive without having pre-notified us of the need for such devices, our stewarding team performs a dynamic risk assessment which usually involves finding a solution to accompany the supporter to their seat and storing the walking device during the game.

"At the game in question a significant number of visiting supporters who had not notified the club arrived with walking devices."

Confiscated items were returned after the final whistle.

Premier League clubs have been threatened with legal action over claims they are discriminating against disabled fans.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR) said it has received a number of complaints about clubs, including United, removing walking aids from visiting fans.

Last year, a BBC investigation found that 17 Premier League clubs failed to provide enough wheelchair spaces.

Earlier this month, the Manchester Evening News reportedexternal-link that Manchester United fan Martin Emery was told he would have to sit separately from his disabled son as a result of seating restrictions at Old Trafford.