As you all know, I love football and visit a lot of stadiums all in the name of Arsenal but it may surprise people that access to these grounds is not always the best. That’s why organisations such as Level Playing Field (http://www.levelplayingfield.org.uk) exist, to act on behalf of disabled fans who can sometimes get a raw deal at matches. I know you’re all probably thinking, why’s he moaning? A player gave him his shirt at full-time on Sunday. I know. I was (and still am) very happy but my match day experience is not always that great compared to a regular supporter.
This BBC investigation (starring another wheelchair bound Arsenal fan) flags up a few of the difficulties disabled fans face when attending games: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/26630281. I also read an article on the Able2UK website which reiterates all the points: http://www.able2uk.com/news/sport/disabled-access-at-premier-league-football-clubs.html.
The problems I encounter take place almost exclusively away from home as the treatment of disabled fans (not being biased) at the Arsenal is impeccable in my opinion. The only issue I have with the Emirates is wheelchair users who are positioned at the back of the Lower Tier like myself have their views slightly obstructed and cannot see the big screen. I know it’s not a major flaw but demonstrates a lack of planning. Liverpool can trot out the excuse of “Anfield is old” but the North London club cannot as the stadium was only completed in 2006, making it less than a decade old.
The recent media coverage has made people, including Parliament, sit up and take notice. A House of Lords committee met to discuss and respond to the BBC report: http://www.levelplayingfield.org.uk/news/premier-league-clubs-warned-over-needs-disabled-fans. Like all things, improvements aren’t going to happen overnight but at least Westminster are now aware so can investigate the matter in full. I agree that with all the money circulating in the beautiful game nowadays, there is no real reason why stadia cannot be adjusted to accommodate disabled fans. We are as passionate as everyone else…
Bye for now!