Premier League clubs' progress on disabled access revealed
Premier League clubs have made only limited progress on stadia accessibility for disabled fans, broken Premier League rules and failed to provide sufficient information when questioned, a review published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has revealed.
Analysis by the Commission, based on responses to questions put to all twenty Premier League clubs, has revealed:
- only 7 clubs are providing even the minimum number of wheelchair spaces
- only 7 clubs have larger, fully equipped toilets, known as changing places toilets, installed
- 7 clubs are breaking the Premier League’s own rules by not publishing access statements to give disabled fans essential information about their ground
All clubs failing to meet the minimum requirements will be given a deadline of September 2017 to publish a clear action plan and timetable for improvement or face a statutory investigation from the Commission.
Publishing the findings, Commission Chair, David Isaac, said:
“The end of the season is fast approaching and time is running out for clubs. The information we received from some clubs was of an appalling standard, with data missing and with insufficient detail. What is clear is that very few clubs are doing the minimum to meet the needs of disabled supporters.
“The Premier League itself does not escape blame. They need to make the concerns of disabled fans a priority and start enforcing their own rule book. We will be meeting individual clubs and asking them to explain themselves and tell us what their plans are.”
To understand the experiences and views of disabled supporters we will be opening a call for evidence at the end of the current football season and speaking to disabled supporters' groups.
We would particularly like to know:
- which clubs are getting it right for their fans and which clubs are getting it wrong
- the experience of disabled fans travelling to away games
- what clubs have done in the 2016 to 2017 season to improve disabled fans' experiences
- the experience of disabled fans buying tickets
In the coming weeks a team from the Commission will meet with clubs who did not provide sufficient information on current accessibility or have in place any action plan and timetable for improvement. We will also meet those that are designing new grounds or stands to ensure that they aspire to a first class experience for disabled fans, not just to meeting the bare minimum.
Clare Lucas, Activism Manager for learning disability charity Mencap, who are part of the Changing Places Consortium for accessible toilets, said:
"For too long Premier League clubs have neglected the needs of their disabled fans, many of whom are forced to be changed on toilet floors, because clubs are yet to install proper Changing Places facilities. It is simply inexcusable.
"So it’s incredibly promising that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is offering fans a much needed platform to voice their needs. I hope the Premier League clubs start listening and taking action. It’s time they support their fans in the same way that their fans support them."
Tony Taylor, Chair of the Level Playing Field (LPF) charity promoting good access for all fans, said:
"Level Playing Field fully supports the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on the progress made by Premier League clubs in meeting their own self-imposed deadline of August 2017. We note that potential legal investigations may follow into clubs who still fail to meet the minimum standards of access for their disabled supporters.
"Once again, we need to make absolutely clear that these minimum standards have been in place for many years and that there is simply no excuse as to why any club should fail to meet these basic criteria to providing an inclusive matchday experience for disabled fans. Indeed, we believe that Premier League clubs, with all their resources, should go well beyond what is considered to be the minimum requirements and should set the standard for all sports stadia.
"LPF have always worked closely with Premier League clubs and will continue to do so, and unequivocally welcome the firm stance the Commission is taking on the issue."