Date: 21st April 2017 at 10:14pm
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It’s been reported that 13 Premier League clubs are still failing to provide the required number of wheelchair spaces for disabled supporters.

With the Premier League making a promise that improvements would see all clubs comply with the Accessible Stadia Guide recommendations for disabled supporters by the end of this season, it’s been a pretty hot topic in the media as the months have passed by and some clubs have clearly taken steps in the right direction with building and improvement work either taking place or already scheduled to take place in the off season.

However the BBC have followed up the earlier reports of struggles and quoted David Isaac, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) this week and whilst progress has been made by some, clearly there is some way still to go.

Back in 2014, 17 of the 20 top flight clubs at the time did not meet the criteria for wheelchair spaces and August 2017 is soon to be with us, and that was the Premier League self set deadline for meeting standards.

Isaac explained that an investigation would be launched into clubs who failed to meet that deadline and acceptable standards as the very least he expected come August was for clubs who didn’t meet those guidelines to then fully have a plan in place with a time table for improvement.

As things stand with 13 out of the current 20 failing to meet the standards, only seven clubs have larger, fully equipped toilets available for use and its said seven clubs break Premier League rules on providing information to fans.

‘The end of the season is fast approaching and time is running out for clubs. 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. The Premier League itself does not escape blame. 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.’

Clare Lucas, activism manager for learning disability charity Mencap, added about he current facilities available in general.

‘For too long Premier League clubs have neglected the needs of their disabled fans, many of whom are forced to be changed on toilet floors, because clubs are yet to install proper facilities. It is simply inexcusable.’

The EHRC investigation so far says that the following clubs are failing in the following areas.

Wheelchair spaces:
Failing to provide the minimum number – Arsenal, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull, Liverpool, Man Utd, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, Watford, West Brom.

Without larger, fully equipped toilets, known as ‘changing places’ toilets – Bournemouth, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull, Middlesbrough, Stoke, Sunderland, Swansea, Tottenham, Watford, West Brom.

Not publishing access statements to give disabled fans information about their ground – Burnley, Crystal Palace, Hull, Man Utd, Middlesbrough, Stoke, West Ham.

The Premier League itself says.

‘In September 2015 Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to improve their disabled access provisions by meeting the Accessible Stadia Guide (ASG) by August 2017. Clubs are working hard to improve their facilities and rapid progress has been made. The improvements undertaken are unprecedented in scope, scale and timing by any group of sports grounds or other entertainment venues in the UK. Given the differing ages and nature of facilities, some clubs have faced significant built environment challenges. For those clubs cost is not the determining factor. They have worked, and in some cases continue to work, through issues relating to planning, how to deal with new stadium development plans, how to best manage fan disruption or, where clubs don’t own their own grounds, dealing with third parties. Clubs will continue to engage with their disabled fans and enhance their provisions in the coming months, years and beyond.’