The world’s richest and most popular football league has kicked off again and hundreds of thousands of fans attended the first game of the new season.
But I wonder how many disabled supporters were among them? Not nearly as many as wanted to, if our research is anything to go by.
I work for the charity Revitalise, which provides respite holidays for disabled people and carers from across the UK. Accessible excursions are an integral part of what we do, so we wanted to find what Premiership clubs were doing for their disabled fans on match days. The results made for depressing reading.
We found that all the clubs had signed up to guidelines and promised to improve their provision for disabled people more than 10 years ago, but after all that time only three clubs – Arsenal, Bournemouth and Swansea – had the recommended number of spaces for wheelchair users.
In our view this is quite pathetic.
We also asked disabled football fans about their own experiences and they painted a picture of poor match day experiences and feelings of exclusion.
This is not good enough. Disabled supporters have a right to expect the same enjoyable, socially inclusive experience as other fans, which is why we’re calling for clubs to up their game and provide better facilities and services for disabled fans.
I’d like people to join me in calling for football clubs to get on the ball and do the right thing by their disabled supporters.
For more info about Revitalise and to support our vital work, call 0303 303 0145 or visit www.revitalise.org.uk.