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Footy tickets for wheelchair users

I read with interest about the provision of wheelchair spaces at premier football league clubs. This was in the news some time ago and no real progress was made. It was mentioned and then discussed at a leisurely pace and then dismissed with no real news nor progress for us wheelchair users.

In general the facilities for disabled users has improved dramatically over the last 10 to 15 years with far more in the way of ramps and wheelchair-friendly toilet facilities but the number of spaces for viewing has sadly not been addressed until now it seems as Mike Penning, the minister of state for disabled people, has written to footy clubs about the provision of adequate wheelchair spaces.

A recent report reveals that only 15% of Premier League clubs are providing sufficient wheelchair space for disabled people despite obligations under law to provide adequate space for disabled supporters.

Shockingly the a survey revealed that only Swansea, Cardiff and Southampton provided enough space for spectators with wheelchairs. In theory the number of spaces should be a percentage of the ground capacity. The official line is::

The Accessible Stadia guide – published in 2003 in conjunction with the Football Association, Premier League, Football League and Sport England – states newly constructed grounds that have a capacity between 20,000 and 40,000 must have a minimum 150 wheelchair spaces, rising by three for every 1,000 seats above the 20,000 threshold. If the stadium has a capacity of more than 40,000, at least 210 wheelchair spaces should be made available.

After much discussion Mr Penning stated "We need a complete overhaul of grounds and of how disabled fans are supported at every level of the sport – and that should start at the very top. The situation is currently woefully inadequate and it is not only wheelchair access that falls short, but access for people with all kinds of impairments. Changes must be made now."

The knock on effects of this is the ability to get suitable tickets and most clubs don't make this very simple at all. Joyce Cook, the chair of Level Playing Field, added: "The experience of disabled football fans varies across the country. It can be hard to get tickets, especially for away games and if you're a wheelchair user. And when you get there, the sight lines can be so bad they would have got a better experience watching it on TV. That's not acceptable and it's time all football clubs took their legal obligations seriously."

Lets hope this recent focus on things improves the conditions for wheelchair users and brings as many clubs as possible in line with legislation.

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