Survey suggests away-day experience for disabled supporters needs attention

Disabled football fans are being put off attending away matches in England and Wales by poor views and discriminatory treatment, a campaign group has claimed.

A survey conducted by Level Playing Field revealed 43 per cent of respondents had experienced some form of abuse or negative attitude at an away game in the last five years, while almost 50 per cent cited blocked sightlines as barriers to travelling.

Chair Tony Taylor said: “It’s a sad situation that the access to live sport, which most supporters take for granted, is clearly not being provided in the same way for disabled supporters at away matches.

“The ability to watch a football game without blocked sightlines and fear of abuse or judgment is a basic expectation not being met.

“Clearly, there is a need for greater education within football. Level Playing Field will continue to take the lead in this by raising awareness amongst supporters and sharing best practices with clubs and governing bodies.

“We will be looking to these organisations and other fan-led groups to work with us to improve the issues highlighted in this survey, which continue to beset the away fan experience of disabled supporters.”

Level Playing Field Chair, Tony Taylor

Of those supporters interviewed, 28 per cent said not being accommodated in the away end at grounds marred the matchday experience, while an additional 23 per cent reported a lack of disability awareness from other fans as a negative factor.

More than half of respondents who do not currently travel to games said they had done in the past, with Level Playing Field suggesting some disabled supporters are opting not to attend away games as a result of the issues raised.

Taylor said: “In recent years, there have been significant steps taken by many clubs to improve the matchday experience of disabled fans in general.

“However, this survey shows that there is still much work to be done and that the away fan experience in particular should be an area of focus for improvement by clubs.

“The away-day experience for disabled supporters needs considerable attention if football is serious about providing ‘access for all’.”

Commenting on the report, David McArdle, the EFL’s head of equality, diversity and inclusion, said: “Through our new EDI strategy, launching over the summer, the EFL will reinforce our commitment to ensure that the voices of under-represented groups, including disabled fans, across our clubs, will continue to be heard, which will allow for effective and sustainable change.”

Original article published 06.06.2022 on the Morning Star website.

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