Report shows Premier League Clubs are set to Fail Disabled fans after August 2017 Access Deadline
As part of a government investigation into the lack of Disabled Access in Sporting venues, the Premier League advised the House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee, that "it would consider imposing sanctions on clubs that fail to provide sufficient accessibility."
UP TO 8 OUT OF 20 PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS WILL FAIL TO MEET ACCESSIBLE PLEDGE
Although the Premier League made a pledge to disabled fans that "every club would meet Accessible Stadia Guidelines by August 2017", Chelsea, Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth have advised that they are likely to miss the deadline.
Recently promoted Watford, Burnley and Middlesbrough have also been told that the deadline does not apply to them even though some of the Guidelines relate to Building Regulations and has been avaliable for over 14 years. Nether the less they have another year to achieve the improvements.
Clubs that were part of the pledge including Newcastle, Aston Villa, and Fulham who also promised fans of changes by August 2017 yet were relegated to the Championship have also managed to shy away from carrying out changes promised, as the pledge related to Premier League Clubs.
West Ham who moved into the Olympic Stadium have in fact reduced provision for disabled supporters since they took over the Olympic Stadium.
Given the huge public investment in converting the Olympic Stadium into a Premier League football ground it should be expect the ground should become exemplar regarding disabled access.
BARRIERS DISABLED FANS FACE
Disabled fans have put up with poor facilities for long enough now, and often face barriers at games such as:
- Insufficient number of wheelchair spaces resulting in lack of seating availability.
- Supporters find booking tickets online difficult at many clubs;
- Poor provision for disabled parking;
- Locations and views provided in grounds are often poor often resulting in obscured views,
- Lack of adequate Changing Places toilet, and accessible toilet facilities
- And poor training of staff resulting in poor understanding of disabled fans needs.
Bill Bush explained to the Culture Media and Sport select Committee, that if a club was in breach of League Rules then "depending on the severity of the case, the Board of the Premier League could impose a wide range of sanctions, including fines of up to £25,000".
He went on to state that "More serious breaches might result in the matter being referred to a specially appointed independent panel which would be able to impose heavier fines or,potentially, deduct points from clubs".
It is our belief that in light that access requirements have been in place for over 20 years now through the The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and its successor the Equality Act 2010 require those providing services to the public, such as a sports stadium, to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ so that people with disabilities are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to people without disabilities. Yet clearly clubs have decided to ignore this until they made the pledge in August 2015 to make all Premier League clubs accessible Stadia Compliant by August 2017, this should now be classed as "the most serious breach" and clubs should be fined and docked points within the league.
Placing a £25,000 fine upon a Premier League club would have little effect, as this is often not a players weekly wage. Premier League clubs with very considerable income and resources, have not given priority to sports fans with disabilities in the last 20 years, despite the increase in income including the most lucrative television deal in world professional football which will generate a combined £10.4 billion, distributed among all 20 Premier League clubs. It consists of £5.3bn for the broadcast of live matches by Sky and BT and ancillary deals, plus another £5.1bn from the sale of overseas rights.
I feel that from August 2017, any Premier League club that does not meet the promise they made themselves and comply with Accessible Stadia Guidelines which have been available for over 14 years now, should incur a 10 point deduction.
Not complying with basic Building Regulations and the Equality Act 2010 should be seen as the most severe form of Premier League rule break. Disabled spectators are not asking for a large number of expensive changes. They love their sports and wish only for their needs to be taken into account.
Please add your name to this petition, and the reasons why you feel that this should be implemented. If your a Disabled fan yourself, add details of how you have been effected by the lack of accessibility to Premier League grounds.