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Push to improve disabled access at UK sports venues

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The government is to launch a survey into the treatment of disabled people at UK stadiums and sports venues.

Disabled sports fans will be encouraged to share their experiences of all aspects of viewing live sport – including wheelchair access, disabled parking, accessible toilets, hearing loops and treatment by other supporters at live sporting fixtures.

The survey and its results will be used to guide the government’s efforts to improve spectator experiences for the UK’s 12 million disabled people. To take part in the survey online, click here.

Earlier this year the government called on Britain’s football leagues to take urgent action to redress some of the “woeful” lack of appropriate support and space for disabled spectators, reminding them of their legal obligations to provide adequate room and adjustments for disabled fans.

Research showed nearly half of Premier League football clubs don’t offer even half the wheelchair space they should for disabled people.

Mark Harper, minister of state for disabled people, said: “For too long in this country disabled sports fans have been treated like second class citizens at many sporting venues.

“Yet 25 per cent of us have an impairment, and disabled people and their households have a spending power of over £200bn.”

Meanwhile, evidence from disability charity Level Playing Field has revealed that as many as half of Premier League football clubs operate season ticket policies which could be deemed as discriminatory against disabled sports fans.

Evidence has emerged of clubs operating complex pre-registration systems for disabled supporters to qualify for season tickets which are not applied to fans without disabilities.

Level Playing Field have also uncovered that many clubs allocate disproportionately small numbers of season tickets to wheelchair users and exclude disabled people from using their online ticketing services.

Joyce Cook from Level Playing Field said: “The experience of disabled sports fans varies across the country.

“Our research shows that many clubs are operating what seem to be discriminatory policies when it comes to season and away tickets. And if you can actually get there, the inability to sit with your own fans, poor sight lines and the lack of accessible provisions can be so bad that you would have had a better experience watching it on TV.

“That’s not acceptable and it’s time all clubs and venues took their legal obligations seriously – and recognised the value of the purple pound.”

To take part in the survey online, click here

• To read more on disabled access at sports venues, click here for a feature article in Sports Management.

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The government is to launch a survey into the treatment of disabled people at UK stadiums and sports venues.
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