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Sports minister backs EHRC to use legal powers against sports clubs with unaccessible stadiums

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The government will back the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) if it wishes to use its legal powers against Premier League football clubs not complying with stadium accessibility requirements, according to sports minister Tracey Crouch.

Crouch told a DCMS Select Committee that “a lot of work needs to be done” across all sports to make venues more accessible for disabled people, but stressed that football must “take the lead” due to the level of resource in the game.

In 2015, Premier League football clubs made a commitment to make their grounds more user-friendly for people with impairments, and comply with the Accessible Stadia Guide by August 2017.

However, according to stadium accessibility charity Level Playing Field a number of Premier League clubs are still not compliant with less than a year to go.

The sports minister said that while she understood the “major structural issues” prevalent when making stadium changes, they were “often the excuse for not doing anything”.

Crouch was also questioned about the publication of the UK Sports Governance Code, and how national governing bodies would be penalised if they didn’t adhere.

Predictably, the Football Association (FA) was cited several times due to the lack of diversity on its board and within its Council. The lack of independent members in either was also referred to as an area of concern.

The MP for Chatham and Aylesford re emphasised that the government would take £30m (US$38.1m, €35.8m) in public money away from the FA if it didn’t modernise its structure.

When it was put to her that the body would not miss the “relatively modest” amount of funding, Crouch added that the government would not back any World Cup bid the FA wanted to make as long as it didn’t play ball.

She did, however, stress that she “had faith the FA was taking it seriously”, but didn’t rule out the possibility of legislation if the organisation refused to get its house in order.

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The government will back the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) if it wishes to use its legal powers against Premier League football clubs not complying with stadium accessibility requirements, according to sports minister Tracey Crouch.
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Crouch (second from right) said football should take the lead for stadium accessibility / David Davies/PA Wire/PA Images