FOOTIE_mainAS THE new football season swings into action, new figures show that only 3 out of 20 Premier league clubs are providing enough wheelchair spaces in their grounds.

Swansea, Bournemouth and Leicester City lead the way.

But top clubs  Chelsea,  Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United are among those that are not meeting the minimum number of wheelchair spaces required in their stadiums.

Over a year ago, the Government said they would act and that this situation was ‘woefully inadequate’, but nothing has changed.

Disabled fans at 55 of the 92 Football League clubs also have no choice but to sit with home fans as away supporters, and many have stopped travelling to away games because of this situation.

Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“With the money pouring into Premier League football it just isn’t right that disabled football fans are being forgotten by the clubs they support.

“Everyone should be able to go and watch a game if they want to, but Premier League clubs still aren’t doing enough to be inclusive and accessible for all.

“The Government said they would act a year ago but there’s no evidence they’ve done anything to force the clubs, the Premier League, and the F.A. to sit down and insist improvements are made.

“We need an end to the unfair and complex schemes for disabled fans to get tickets for matches, the lack of audio provision in stadia and the restrictions on guide dogs.

“It isn’t right that clubs are failing their disabled fans and we need to see real action and improvements this season.”

To get the stadiums up to the minimum standards, Mr Bryant claims Arsenal would need to spend just 1.4% of their £10m summer transfer spending; Chelsea 4.4% of their £34.1m; Liverpool 2.1% of their £77.5m; Manchester United 2.7% of their £83.1m; and Manchester City just 0.53% of their £71m.

NATIONAL charity Revitalise has published an Accessibility League Table of Premier League clubs.

Arsenal, Southampton and newcomers AFC Bournemouth top Revitalise’s ‘Footie4All’ league table.

But Premiership heavyweights Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool – three of the world’s top 10 richest clubs – find themselves languishing in the bottom half of the table.

Watford prop up the table with Tottenham Hotspur and Everton just above them.

Revitalise chief executive Chris Simmonds said:

“Our study shows that for disabled people, going to the big match might not be the joyful experience they had hoped for and it’s down to the clubs to put this right.

“We are talking about the world’s richest football league here, yet all but three have been unable to comply with simple guidelines that were laid down over 10 years ago! There can be no excuse for this.

“Bournemouth, a newcomer to the top flight, with a stadium that’s 105 years old and a turnover one fifteenth of the Premiership average, has managed to fit twice the recommended number of wheelchair spaces into its tiny stadium – and in the process has put many much bigger, richer and better resourced clubs to shame.

“We also found out that the Championship is performing just as well as the Premiership when it come to accessibility but on a seventh of the turnover.*

“Disabled supporters have an absolute right to expect the same enjoyable, socially inclusive experience as every other fan and football clubs have a moral and legal obligation to provide this.

“The Premiership clubs need to get on the ball. Your disabled supporters need more and better wheelchair spaces, better views, better info online and – just as important – the chance to spend time with their friends. We don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

Revitalise provides respite breaks for disabled people and carers, combining 24-hour nurse-led care with a real holiday experience.

Tel 0303 303 0145