Ministers have urged sports clubs and venues to step up their game on access for disabled fans, after the launch of a government report.
The inclusive and accessible stadia report published today highlights the frustrations of disabled sports fans across the UK and found that some disabled fans are unable to sit with their children, or with their fellow supporters, when attending matches.
Other difficulties and complaints include:
- not being able to move around the stadium easily
- disabled parking spaces being taken up by limos or TV crews
- a lack of disability awareness among stewards and staff, particularly when dealing with hidden impairmen
Now the government is calling on clubs to take urgent action to provide appropriate support and space for disabled spectators, and reminding them of their legal obligations to provide adequate room and adjustments.
While some clubs and venues have made good progress on improving access, the report recognises that more can still be done to improve the experience for disabled fans.
Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson said:
“As a life-long sports fan, I take it for granted that I can support my team each weekend. Everyone should have that same opportunity, and it’s absolutely unacceptable that this is clearly not the case.
“Sport has a proud history of rising to social challenges and I urge clubs to stand by their disabled fans, just as their fans stand by them.
‘This report paints a compelling picture of the challenges faced by disabled sports fans – their voices can no longer be ignored, and there can be no excuses for inaction.”
Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch said:
“A disability should not be a barrier to attending sporting events but this report shows that there is still work to be done to improve access and the matchday experience for disabled fans.
“While some progress has been made and there are examples of good practice across sport, we want to see more from clubs and sports venues on inclusion across the board.”
Third-sector groups have also added their voices to the call for action.
Joyce Cook OBE, Chair of Level Playing Field said:
“Level Playing Field welcomes the DWP and DCMS report published today which highlights the challenges and barriers still faced by many disabled sports spectators across the UK.
“We hope that this report and its recommendations will be taken seriously by those in positions of power and most able to ensure lasting change. London 2012 showed just what is possible when there is the will and determination to be truly accessible and inclusive.
“Disabled fans have waited long enough; there can be no more excuses. It is quite simply time!”
The survey behind the report, launched in December 2014, called for fans to share their views on everything from wheelchair access and disabled parking to accessible toilets, to hearing loops and treatment by other supporters. It highlights the mixed experiences of disabled fans viewing a wide range of live sport at stadiums and sports grounds across Britain.
Disabled people make up nearly 1 in 5 of the population and this government is committed to ensuring that they have the same opportunities as anyone else.
The government recently launched a consultation on a new strategy for sport which will look at issues of fairness and equality in sport more widely, and in particular how we can ensure that disabled participants and spectators are properly catered for.
Research showed nearly half of Premier League football clubs don’t offer even half the wheelchair space they should for disabled people.
Evidence from Level Playing Field reveals that as many as half of Premier League football clubs operate season ticket policies which could be deemed as discriminatory against disabled sports fans.
Like anyone providing a service, sporting venues have a duty under theEquality Act to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled spectators.
Two small-scale surveys were conducted between December 2014 and February 2015 comprising an online survey of disabled spectators and a postal survey of clubs from football, rugby and cricket.
In order to make the survey as widely accessible as possible, LimeSurvey – a free, open source tool for web surveys – was used to make the disabled spectator survey available.
The Sports Ground Safety Authority has today published supplementary guidance to update their accessible stadia guide. This guidance will help new and existing sports grounds remove barriers to access and ensure all spectators can enjoy going to a sports ground in safety and comfort.