Equality watchdog contradicts football’s Premier League over access
Summary: Football’s Premier League has been criticised by disabled fans and the equality watchdog after defending clubs that have failed to provide enough wheelchair-accessible spaces in their grounds.
Surveys have found that most Premier League grounds are falling far short of the recommended level of wheelchair-accessible spaces, with some of the richest clubs – including Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool – among the worst-performers.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission hinted this week that legal action against Premier League clubs was a possibility if they failed to act.
The commission spoke out after Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, told the BBC that there were “practical reasons” why some clubs could not provide more spaces for wheelchair-users.
He said it was a “very difficult thing to do physically” in some stadia, while there were challenges with the “emotiveness of moving season ticket holders who have had their season tickets for ever”, while for clubs like Tottenham, which is building a new stadium, there were “practical difficulties in doing it immediately”.
He also wrongly suggested that the Equality Act – which outlaws discrimination against disabled people and other groups – only applies to new sports stadia.
Scudamore admitted that progress on providing more wheelchair spaces was “disappointing” and that clubs “do need to do the work and we do need to do it as quickly as we can to bring ourselves up to the standard”.
He also claimed that the Premier League was “working with EHRC [the Equality and Human Rights Commission]and have been for some time, looking at the actual detail and the facts on this”.
But when Disability News Service approached EHRC, Lord [Chris] Holmes, its disability commissioner, said the watchdog was “very disappointed” with the progress made by the Premier League.
He said: “We have had discussions with the Premier League, but we are very disappointed that progress to date has been slow.
“We hope Premier League clubs will now redouble their efforts to make football a truly inclusive experience for all.”
He said that clubs had a legal duty under the Equality Act to ensure “reasonable adjustment for disabled fans”.
He added: “It’s outrageous that we can have one of the richest leagues in the word and yet, far too often, when it comes to trying to buy tickets to have a match day experience, the beautiful game can be an ugly experience if you are a disabled spectator.
“While our preference is always to work with parties to avoid costly legal proceedings, all options remain on the table, because disabled fans deserve better.”
In February, Lord Holmes said that Premier League football clubs would be guilty of a “scandalous” failure if they did not use some of a multi-billion pound TV rights windfall to improve access at their grounds.
Joyce Cook, chair of the user-led Level Playing Field (LPF), which represents disabled sports fans, said it was “worrying to hear the Premier League seeming to defend some of its clubs”, although she said LPF was “encouraged” by some of Scudamore’s comments, and welcomed any progress that had been made.
Cook said it was vital to stress that the Equality Act did not just apply to new stadia, but to older grounds as well.
Only last week, LPF criticised the equality organisation Kick It Out for awarding its Advanced Equality Standard to Chelsea Football Club, even though it only has 127 spaces for wheelchair-users out of a capacity of about 42,000, far below the recommended level of 214 wheelchair-accessible spaces.
Cook said: “It is important to remember that football clubs, like all service-providers in this country, have had more than a decade to meet their legal obligations (in line with the Equality Act and the previous Disability Discrimination Act).
“This legislation required that physical barriers be removed as far back as 2004, to ensure that venues are fit for purpose and fully accessible to disabled people.
“The law on this matter is very clear and it applies to both new and existing venues, including football stadiums.
“There are many public venues that are old or even listed buildings in the UK and that has not stopped their owners from making the necessary access improvements.
“For Premier League football clubs, funding is certainly not an issue and fellow fans groups have told us that their (non-disabled) members would not object to being moved to accommodate disabled fans.
“There can be no more excuses. We will continue to push for more rapid progress than we have seen so far. Disabled fans have waited long enough. It is quite simply time!”
Meanwhile, the prospect of new legislation forcing clubs to meet existing guidance on wheelchair spaces moved a step closer this week, when the Labour peer Lord Faulkner, an LPF vice-president, who is putting forward an accessible sports grounds bill, came fourth in a ballot to decide which peers will be given priority in introducing their private members’ bills in the current session of parliament.
Source Disability News Service
Other recent news items:
- Doctors’ union finally agrees to spread the word
- Disability Politics UK: call to prioritise step free access
- Children with disabilities: targeted violence and hostility
- Dementia care: how social enterprises are developing products and services
- Adass spring seminar: four things you need to know
- The Disability Audit: the eight coalition policies that have hit disabled people
- DWP told to publish ESA deaths report, after two-year delay
- The struggle to find work when you have Down's syndrome
- PIP Delay Crisis Over, Claims DWP
- Meet Justin Tomlinson MP- New Minister For Disabled People
- A quick guide to new care minister Alistair Burt
- How to use your disability as a strength when applying for jobs
- Devastating impact of cuts on disabled people
- NHS ‘has wasted more than a year’ on latest bid to improve wheelchair services
- Five Thousand Disabled Adults Sexually Abused In Last 2 Years Says NSPCC
- ESA Claimant Takes On Maximus And Wins
- One in five benefit-related deaths involved sanctions, admits DWP
- Manchester United tell family with disabled son to watch Stockport instead
- Joint mental health commissioning strategy
- New parliament sees number of disabled MPs plunge
- Motability under spotlight over cuts to grants… despite £190 million reserves
- Disabled people ‘should come together in new national body’
- 'It's a great honour': Selby appoints UK's first mayor with learning disabilities
- Voluntary Community Social Enterprise Review website
- Cameron downgrades minister for disabled people
- Poor UK cancer survival rates linked to lack of GP direct access to scans
- Charity highlights role of siblings in supporting adults with a disability
- Queen’s Speech fails to mention social care funding
- Queen’s speech ‘suggests the worst is yet to come'
- TV industry must improve representation of disabled people
- The bionic suit helping wheelchair users get back on their feet
- New project to tackle mental health issues
- Equality watchdog contradicts football’s Premier League over access
- Schools 'must improve support for diabetic children'
- National Theatre plans shows on issue of disability
- Rise in mental health bed occupancy
- Watchdog writes to Man Utd after stewards confiscate walking aids from fans
- Government cuts ‘could see disabled people slide back to the bad old days’
- Disabled payment delay unlawful, judge rules
- The 'dragons' who want to help disabled people start their own business
- Boy, 12, wins £120,000 in damages after swine-flu jab left him 'severely disabled' by narcolepsy
- DWP ignores watchdog’s deadline over benefit-related deaths
- Man who cannot walk or talk called for jobcentre 'back to work' interview
- UK woman can ride bike for first time with 'world's most lifelike bionic hand'
- GPs to refer more patients with low-risk cancer symptoms under new NICE guidance
- Disability campaigners clash with police inside parliament over benefit cuts
- Indefinite Award DLA Transfer To PIP Will Start From July In Certain Postcodes
- Disabled children less happy with hospital care than peers
- ILF closure: Process has caused ‘fear, stress and anxiety’, say researchers
- Disability poverty rose sharply in fourth year of coalition
- UK services failing patients with dementia
- Shadow disability minister admits backing assisted suicide bill
- Disabled people's rights threatened by government cuts, campaigners warn
- BBC Three’s ‘Defying The Label’ Season
- From 'bloodied knees' to the House of Commons as a disabled MP
- Mental health patients sent hundreds of miles for beds as out of area placements rise 23 per cent
- Systematic over-medication blights learning disability care
- The Superhumans return to Channel 4
- Accessible Information Standard Approved
- Doctors demand return of lung cancer awareness campaign
- David O’Mar, 58, Found Fit For Work Two Weeks Before His Death
- World First Bionic Eye Gives Hope To Millions
- Seven-day NHS to include child mental health services, minister confirms
- Court hears appeal on ‘unfair’ PIP 20 metre rule consultation
- New report by Business Disability Forum cites lack of skills in line managers as major barrier to retention of disabled employees
- Tanni says 10,000 signatures could finally transform wheelchair services
- BBC3 presenter and journalist crowdfunding to transform the lives of people with disabilities in Ghana
- Disabled voters take pioneering legal action over election access
- Has disability sport lost its London 2012 Paralympics momentum?
- NHS Announce New Care Guidelines For Learning Disabilities
- Fresh evidence that ‘benefit scrounger rhetoric’ is causing hate crime
- Sanctioned Jobseekers With Mental Health Problems Are Not ‘Vulnerable’ Says DWP
- Clubs “Neglecting Responsibility” To Disabled Fans
- Latest Figures Show Massive Rise In ESA Sanctions
- ‘Bizarre’ figures raise fears over ministers’ plans for ESA
- School nurses ‘need better mental health training’
- Number of people developing dementia 'stabilising'
- Boy, nine, fitted with first prosthetic hand that can change grip with gestures
- Iain Duncan Smith criticises employers over disability employment gap
- Disability benefit sanctions soar by 30% in a year
- Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show
- Goths at risk of depression or self-harming, research says
- Elderly 'ripped off' in mobility scooter market
- GPs are missing cancer in children - because they 'don't have enough training'
- IDS announces 'fitness for work' U-turn that was five years in the making
- People with autism and learning disabilities excel in creative thinking, study shows
- Starbucks apologises for telling woman she was not 'disabled enough' to use the toilet
- DLA Lifetime Award PIP Transition Started from 1 September in 29 New Areas
- Successful 'Fit for Work' Appeals at Highest Ever Level, Show DWP Stats
- Why is our justice system failing vulnerable people?
- UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
- Coroners 'ground breaking' verdict: Suicide was 'triggered' by 'fit for work' test
- Schoolboy calls for more disabled characters in children's books
- The quadruple amputee who needs the correct prosthetic
- Welfare to work programme failing disabled and ill jobseekers, say charities
- Disabled fans 'delighted' as Premier League finally acts on access
- Two-thirds of adult social care requests rejected by local councils
- Independent Living Fund: Government silence 'suggests something to hide'
- UK employers report rise in mental health problems: CIPD study
- UN inquiry considers alleged UK disability rights violations
- Parliament's own disability group picks first non-disabled chair in nearly 50 years
- Dementia drug 'keeps patients out of nursing homes'
- Disability benefit cuts will actually make it harder for disabled people to find work,coalition of 60 charities warns
- Problems with the care and treatment provided by the NHS and/or difficulties in accessing health services?
- Consultation on the proposed new adult social care strategy
- The Leicestershire Advice Service for Social Care is here to guide you
- Minister: MPs must help 'open doors' for disabled jobseekers
- 'Homes not hospitals': learning disability care to move to community
- Equality Act 'simply isn't strong enough' for BSL-users, peers are told
- Disability Hate Crimes Rise 41% In A Year
- Companies fear employing people with learning disabilities, survey reveals
- DWP cuts specialist disability employment advisors in jobcentres by over 60 per cent
- Watchdog 'must do more to support disabled people to fight discrimination'
- ‘We must keep banging the drum,’ says bus campaigner after five-year fight for justice
- 2,000 disabled people wrongly declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP in just three months
- Local authorities 'spend close to nothing on mental health'
- Rock band with learning disabilities release first single
- NICE seeks to improve diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy
- Premier League clubs face legal threat unless disabled access is improved
- UK’s progress on disability rights ‘patchy and tortuous’, UN told
- Peer pressure sees minister finally announce date for taxi access laws
- Stop the NHS slashing vulnerable people’s care packages in and around Leicestershire
- Minister tells industries to increase representation of disabled people
- Disabled children in England 'finding it increasingly hard to access council care'
- Wheelchair Rugby Loses Funding Appeal
- Plans that could force people into institutions could be ‘front line’ of national problem
- Young people 'fear stigma' if they ask for mental-health help
- Disability benefits process is 'inherently flawed', MPs told
- Businesses woefully ill-equipped to deal with Britain's rapidly growing mental health crisis
- Cash boost for pupils with special needs and disability
- PIP investigation: ‘Horrific’ suicide question sparks fresh assessment inquiry calls
- Disability report: Being disabled in Britain
- Stop PIP reassessments for patients with progressive diseases, campaigners say
- Patients with learning disabilities missing out on health checks
- Thousands have disability vehicles taken away
- Aspire announces GLL and LCiL as first partners to lead InstructAbility
- Easy read guide to voting by post
- Online campaign ‘could enable disabled people to affect election outcome’
- Health Committee inquiry and report: Brexit and Health and Social Care – People and Process
- Women’s Resource Centre report: the Impact of Austerity Measures on Women’s Voluntary and Community Organisations