Hi, I’m Dan Crossfield and I’m from Yorkshire.
As someone who is an avid supporter of a couple of professional sports clubs, and has a learning difficulty, I’ve been looking at how Leeds United FC , Manchester United FC, Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Club and Castleford Tigers Rugby League Club make their stadiums as accessible as possible for disabled fans.
How Elland Road (Leeds United) is accessible for disabled fans:
From my experience of going to Elland Road, Leeds United have two main ways of making it accessible for their disabled fans. Number 1 is they have a specific row of seats near the pitch for fans who are in wheelchairs.
Number 2 is that they are sometimes able to facilitate seats in the Family Stand for fans that may not need wheelchairs, but are disabled in other ways.
Another way they allow disabled fans in, is The Eddie Gray Suite which is an exclusive facility located in the North West Corner offering a range of refreshments. Access to the Eddie Gray Suite is restricted to disabled supporters and their personal assistants only due to limited capacity. No additional family members will be admitted. Toilets are operated with radar keys, which are available from designated stewards.
However, any fan who is disabled needs proof of their disability and in order to purchase tickets, all disabled fans must provide proof of disability. This means they need a current copy of their entitlement to the care and/or mobility component of the DLA or PIP. The copy must be in date at the time of applying for tickets.
In order to be accompanied by a personal assistant who would get in free, a disabled supporter must be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance at the medium or higher rate or the enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). A complimentary ticket for a personal assistant will not be issued if in receipt of the low rate of DLA or the standard rate of PIP.
A concession price is available for disabled supporters irrespective of their level of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.
How Old Trafford (Manchester United) is accessible for disabled fans (football mainly), but once a year I hosts the Super League Grand Final).:
Old Trafford is accessible for disabled fans in a number of ways:
Friends and Family seating- This is available in the wheelchair areas of the North West and North East quadrants. Supporters can apply as normal in the ballot but request additional seats for friends and family. If successful in the ballot, seats will be reserved for the additional tickets. This option means that supporters using a wheelchair can enjoy the game sitting with their friends and family, rather than having to be seated separately.
THE ABILITY SUITE
Old Trafford has a dedicated ‘Ability Suite’ which is a match day lounge designed for supporters in certain areas of the ground who have access requirements or disabilities.
Located in the South East quadrant, the Ability Suite has lowered kiosk facilities (suitable for those using a wheelchair), accessible toilets, television screens and is open before, during and after the game. Supporters are also able to use the Ability Suite to recharge their powered wheelchairs/scooters or portable ventilators.
All supporters in the accessible seating areas will have access to the necessary facilities as we have fully adapted the East Stand concourse to cater for supporters with specific requirements or disabilities.
They have a changing places facility behind the East Stand Wheelchair Platform in the concourse adjacent to the South East Quadrant.
It is suitable for those who are not able to use standard accessible toilets, or anyone else who would require the use of it. The changing places facility has more space than standard accessible toilets, and all the necessary equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist.
They have ‘here to help’ stewards on match days and ‘here to help’ booths which are located throughout the stadium and clearly visible.
We also have a dedicated team of stewards to assist supporters using the wheelchair platform and the amenity seating areas, as well as Stadium Access Stewards in other areas of the stadium, who are also on hand to assist supporters with accessibility requirements.
How Featherstone Rovers (rugby league) make their ground accessible for disabled supporters
At Featherstone Rovers, disabled supporters who are wishing to go to Featherstone Rovers matches on a match-by-match basis must pay the full and appropriate admission charge, according to age for which the application is made.
They will be entitled to a free ‘Carer Ticket’ for any match for which they pay an admission charge. To be eligible for the free ‘Carer Ticket’ you must bring relevant proof that you are in receipt of a Carer Component in the Disability Living Allowance for each match attended.
The above also applies to away supporters. Appropriate proof of disability must be included if applying in advance to the LD Nutrition Stadium. We advise away supporters to book their tickets in advance of the fixture date on 01977 702386.
Disabled supporters should currently be in receipt of either the Higher-Medium rate Mobility or Higher Care Components of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) OR P.I.P.
Disabled Supporters will also need to submit copies of the DLA or PIP.
There’s also a large amount of disabled car parking spaces available.
How Castleford Tigers make their ground accessible for disabled fans
Castleford Tigers are a caring club and takes seriously its
responsibilities in regard to Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act and
Equality Act 2010.
Discrimination against disabled people, whether spectators or staff will not be
tolerated. They recognise that as an old ground Castleford can be challenging for some disabled fans, particularly wheelchair users. We have tried to mitigate against these limitations by introducing a specific gate with an experienced dedicated disabled fans steward, who will work with the fans to ensure they have the best possible match experience. However we also recognise that from time to time additional adjustments will need to be made and we encourage our disabled fans to discuss their needs with the club.
They have 4 things that they need for proof of Disability:
- Their policy is based on eligibility to claim DLA at medium to high level.
- Receipt of either the Severe Disablement Allowance or Attendance Allowance
- War Pensioners’ Mobility Allowance or War or Service Disablement Pension for 80% or more disability.
- Blind or partially sighted registration certificate (BD8 or CVI Certificate)
In order to register, disabled fans must provide proof of disability., which is a current copy of their entitlement to the care and or mobility component of DLA or PIP. The copy must be in date at time of applying for tickets.
In order to qualify for a complimentary ticket for a personal assistant or carer the disabled supporter must be in receipt of the relevant benefits as outlined above.
We are aware that some disabled people will choose not to apply for benefits
they may be entitled to or may be on lower levels of benefits; in these
circumstances you may still be able to apply for a complimentary carer /
personal assistant ticket if you are able to explain why a carer or personal
assistant is necessary in order for you to access the stadium and facilities.
The disabled supporter pays full price for their ticket, however as an reasonable adjustment Castleford are happy to provide a complimentary pass for the PA.
There’s also a car park for easier access for disabled supporters, which is situated adjacent to their accessible parking area.
So, in summary I would say that all four of these professional sports clubs have things in place to make their stadiums as accessible as possible for disabled fans, and/or carers.
If you are into sport, and follow any of these clubs, make sure to give this blog a read.
Have you had any good or bad experiences at grounds?