As the new Premier League season kicks off, new figures show that despite previous controversy still only 3 out of 20 Premier league clubs are providing enough wheelchair spaces in their grounds.
The North East’s two Premier League teams Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC still have some way to go to meet the Accessible Stadia Guide recommendations. Newcastle United are providing only 73% of the recommended disabled spaces whilst Sunderland are providing only 70%.
Other top clubs that are not meeting the minimum number of wheelchair spaces required in their stadiums include Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Over a year ago, the Government said they would act and that this situation was ‘woefully inadequate’, but as the new season is about to kick off nothing has changed.
Analysis also reveals that disabled fans at 55 of the 92 football league clubs have no choice but to sit with home fans as away supporters, and many have stopped travelling to away games because of this unacceptable situation.
New analysis from the Office of Chris Bryant MP has also revealed the cost of upgrading the stadiums to the minimum standard compared to the club’s transfer spending this summer; Arsenal would need to spend just 1.4% of their £10m 2015 summer transfer spending, Chelsea 4.4% of their £34.1m, Liverpool 2.1% of their £77.5m, Manchester United 2.7% of their £83.1m and Manchester City just 0.53% of their £71m.
Football’s failure of disabled fans goes beyond those in need of a wheelchair; 2 clubs have refused admission of guide dogs (Liverpool and Southampton) and 3 clubs refuse to allow assistance or guide dogs in the Away fans section (Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United).
Labour is calling for the government to insist improvements are made and to force the clubs, the Premier League and the F.A. to sit down and work together to better serve disabled fans.
Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central said:
“With the new TV deals bringing in eye-watering figures into the game there is no excuse for not providing proper access for disabled supporters. It’s very disappointing that Newcastle United and Sunderland still have some way to go on this issue. Michael Ashley may have loosened the purse-strings a little when it comes to new players but I’d encourage him to go a bit further and release the funds to make Newcastle United a leader on this. Everyone who supports the Toon should be able to see them play. “
Chris Bryant MP Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said:
“With the money pouring into Premier League football it just isn’t right that disabled football fans are being forgotten by the clubs they support. Everyone should be able to go and watch a game if they want to, but even as the new season starts Premier League clubs still aren’t doing enough to be inclusive and accessible for all.
“The government said they would act a year ago but as the new season kicks off there’s no evidence they’ve done anything to force the clubs, the Premier League and the F.A. to sit down and insist improvements are made.
“We need an end on the unfair and complex schemes for disabled fans to get tickets for matches, the lack of audio provision in stadia and the restrictions on guide dogs. It isn’t right that clubs are failing their disabled fans and we need to see real action and improvements this season.”