The majority of Premier League clubs are still failing disabled supporters, according to a new study.
Analysis by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has revealed that only seven Premier League clubs are providing the minimum number of wheelchair spaces, and only the same number have larger, fully-equipped toilets, known as changing places, installed.
Seven clubs are also breaking the Premier League’s own rules by not publishing access statements to give disabled fans essential information about their ground, a review by the EHRC has determined.
The findings, based on responses to questions put to all 20 Premier League clubs, come less than a month after Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, Chaplain for Sport and CEO of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, urged clubs to provide suitable facilities for disabled fans.
“Some clubs realise that we all have some sort of disability – and put their money where their heart is; enabling everyone to enjoy their football – with comfort breaks that are truly comfortable on site,” he previously told The Universe.
“Players could make it clear to management that playing for a club that does not respect the physical needs of all is an embarrassment,” he added.
The clubs failing to meet the minimum requirements have been given a September deadline to publish a clear action plan and timetable for improvement or face a statutory investigation from the EHRC.
Commission chairman David Isaac warned clubs that the end of the season is fast approaching and time is running out for them.
“The information we received from some clubs was of an appalling standard, with data missing and with insufficient detail. What is clear is that very few clubs are doing the minimum to meet the needs of disabled supporters,” he said.
“The Premier League itself does not escape blame,” he added. “They need to make the concerns of disabled fans a priority and start enforcing their own rule book. We will be meeting individual clubs and asking them to explain themselves and tell us what their plans are.”
The equality watchdog said it would be opening a call for evidence from the end of the season and speaking to disabled supporters’ groups to find out their experiences.
This weekend’s Premier League fixtures:
Saturday 29th April
Southampton v Hull City – 3:00pm
Stoke City v West Ham United – 3:00pm
Sunderland v Bournemouth – 3:00pm
West Bromwich Albion v Leicester City – 3:00pm
Crystal Palace v Burnley – 5:30pm
Sunday 30th April
Manchester United v Swansea City – 12:00pm
Everton v Chelsea – 2:05pm
Middlesbrough v Manchester City – 2:05pm
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal – 4:30pm
Monday 1st May
Watford v Liverpool – 8:00pm
Picture: Disabled fans watch a Premier League game from a designated wheelchair area at West Brom’s ground, The Hawthorns. (Mike Egerton/PA).