LONDON: Up to a third of Premier League clubs have admitted they will fall short on their pledge to provide wheelchair access to fans by August 2017, including Chelsea and Liverpool.
Currently, Chelsea only provide half of the recommended wheelchair space at their home stadium and have now said they can only meet minimum numbers when they have rebuilt their stadium and have not provided a timescale for when this would be. Additionally, Everton, Watford and Manchester United have less than half of the recommended number of wheelchair spaces.
Meanwhile, Arsenal and Leicester City are among the clubs that have already met the targets, with the former also intending to go beyond the minimum wheelchair space guideline of 250.
Stuart Cain, Managing Director at The Ticket Factory was keen to point out potential paths clubs could take to help their disabled fans.
He said: “Bearing in mind the cash in football and the number of new and refurbished stadia it’s surprising to read about the lack of facilities for disabled fans,”
“Venues such as the Barclaycard and Genting Arenas embraced the fact that every fan should be given the equal chance to enjoy themselves a long time ago and there are probably lessons that football could learn by chatting to local venues. The last step of our journey in treating people equally was ticket sales with most venues still relying on telephone lines to handle disabled sales.
“Thankfully, this is changing and The Ticket Factory was the first ticketing agent to offer disabled fans the chance to buy online using the national Credibility Access Scheme. Something that could easily work in football.”
With this new Credibility Access Scheme, disabled fans would fill out a form and receive an access card which would make the registration process much simpler and applicants would only need to register once.
“By linking the digital and stadium experience together in the same way that we have, it would show football in a different light and open up opportunities with a whole new audience that shouldn’t feel excluded,” added Cain.