It has been announced that all Premier League clubs will commit to improving stadium access for disabled fans, having pledged to make their stadiums compliant with the Accessible Stadia Guide by the start of the 2017/18 season.
The announcement has followed a 14-year campaign to improve disabled facilities in top-flight football stadiums, of which only two currently meet the designated standards for disabled fan provision.
In the hours following a scathing government report publicising disabled people’s experiences in football stadiums, the Premier League issued the following statement:
“We look forward to reading the Government’s report and will take on any information it provides. At the moment, we are undertaking our own assessment, 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. All Premier League Clubs have agreed to make their stadiums compliant with the Accessible Stadia Guide by August 2017.
Clubs also agreed to ensure the appropriate number of wheelchair bays are located in their away sections (10% of their home provision).”
Published in 2003, the Accessible Stadia Guide outlines the minimum standards for delivering accessible facilities at sports grounds.
The guide recommends an allocated seat requirement for Premier League stadiums of 0.34%, of which only Swansea and Leicester City achieved last season.
Level Playing Field (LPF), a charity for disabled sports fans, found that some of the league’s wealthier clubs, including Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, failed to meet half of the allocation recommended for disabled supporters.
LPF Chair Joyce Cook was delighted with the announcement from the Premier League, stating: “The promises made today will ensure that many more disabled fans can finally enjoy a fair and equal experience alongside fellow fans, friends and family.
For disabled football fans this is huge news but as always, the proof will be in the pudding. Level Playing Field looks forward to working with the PL and its clubs to deliver on their promises.”
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