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16th April 2014

Come on you Blues?

Real People Audience: Adults Children Spectators Sports EnthusiaSupporting your team is more than just watching on telly. The buzz and atmosphere of a match viewed from the stands is every fan’s dream Saturday, so why isn’t it easy for everyone to enjoy?

I like my football as much as the next person. Well to be honest, probably rather more than the next person. I follow my team’s progress in the league and as often as possible I get to a match. I find the collective excitement, shared enthusiasm (or shared despair!) makes the experience great. It’s not the same viewing your team from the sofa, despite the proximity of warm drinks, a clean loo and cushions.

Not so equal access

Since the implementation of the Equality Act in 2010 and legislation dating back to 1995, it has been illegal for service providers, including football clubs, to treat disabled people less favourably than other customers. So I was disappointed to read that only three clubs in the English Premiership have the required number of wheelchair spaces. Moreover, 8 of the 20 clubs have less than half of the spaces they should. If you support a premier league team and use a wheelchair, not only will you have difficulty accessing home games but there is a very high chance there will not be enough tickets to support your team away from home either.

Live matches everyone can enjoy

Level Playing Field is a charity that promotes and encourages access to sports for disabled people. In March, their weeks of action campaign saw many clubs promote the work of this charity and raise funds or highlight access issues. Danny Wallace, former England footballer, spoke about what this meant to him as a sufferer of multiple sclerosis;

“Disabled supporters should have equal rights to everything at a match and in choosing to support their team alongside their own fans”

See it from their viewpoint

Next time you get along to a match, check out the access for disabled people at your club. Mainly the people who use wheelchairs are seated along the sidelines, but for some this does not afford the ringside view it may suggest. And where spaces higher up in the stands are made available, the fact that wheelchair users cannot see over the heads of the people in front is often not considered.

It’s important that everyone can enjoy sport, so it’s important that we sports fans stay alert to the needs of fellow supporters and campaign actively to make things truly equal.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/26630281
http://www.levelplayingfield.org.uk

Ginny Tyler

Learning Disabilities Specialist

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