Football Survey suggests the experience of days away for fans with disabilities needs attention

DISABLED football fans are deterred from attending away games in England and Wales by poor prospects and discriminatory treatment, according to a campaign group.

A survey conducted by Level Playing Field found that 43 percent of respondents had experienced some form of abuse or negative attitude at an away game in the past five years, while nearly 50 percent cited blocked sightlines as obstacles to travel.

Chairman Tony Taylor said: “It is a sad situation that the access to live sport that most fans take for granted is clearly not afforded to disabled fans in the same way at away games.

“The ability to watch a football game without blocked lines of sight and fear of abuse or judgment is a fundamental expectation that is not being met.

“There is clearly a need for more education in football. Level Playing Field will continue to lead the way by raising fan awareness and sharing best practices with clubs and governing bodies.

“We will reach out to these organizations and other fan-led groups to work with us to improve the issues highlighted in this survey that continue to impact the fan experience for fans with disabilities.”

Of the fans surveyed, 28 percent said the lack of guest area accommodation impacted the game day experience, while another 23 percent cited a lack of disability awareness from other fans as a negative factor.

More than half of those surveyed who do not currently travel to games said they have done so in the past, with Level Playing Field suggesting that some disabled fans are choosing not to attend away games due to the issues raised.

Taylor said: “Significant steps have been taken by many clubs in recent years to improve the matchday experience for disabled fans more generally.

“However, this survey shows that there is still work to be done and that the away fan experience in particular should be a focus for clubs to improve.

“The ‘away day’ experience for disabled fans requires significant attention if football is serious about ‘access for all’.”

Commenting on the report, David McArdle, EFL Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion: “Through our new EDI strategy, which will be launched over the summer, the EFL will step up our commitment to ensure the voices of under-represented groups, including Supporters with disabilities at all of our clubs will continue to be heard, which will enable effective and lasting change.”

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