Sunderland’s Stadium of Light ninth in Premier League of disabled access – but behind Newcastle United

Sunderland fans.
Sunderland fans.

Sunderland’s Stadium of Light has made it into the top half of the Premier League for its accessibility for disabled supporters.

A ranking of clubs in the division, published by national charity Revitalise, has found that many are failing those fans who require disabled facilities.

Many of the grounds are not modern, but the people running them can still do more for disabled fans.

Freda Oyston, Sunderland supporters’ Disabled and Escort branch

The Wearsiders were put in ninth place in the Footie4All table, scoring well for the number of disabled tickets they offer, availability of toilet facilities and parking, as well as staff awareness.

The club were marked down, however, for not having information for wheelchair supporters on its website and also for not offering disabled fans tickets at discounted prices. 
Rivals Newcastle fared even better, finishing in seventh.

Surprisingly, heavyweight clubs Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, all ended up in the bottom half of the table.

Freda Oyston, of the Sunderland supporters’ Disabled and Escort branch, said she was surprised her club’s facilities had not been rated higher.

“The facilities are very good at Sunderland, certainly compared to other grounds,” said Freda.

“Some of the grounds such as Selhurst park (Crystal Palace’s stadium), we won’t go to because they are atrocious, while Liverpool and Everton’s grounds are also poor.

“Many of the grounds are not modern, but the people running them can still do more for disabled fans.”

Revitalise is now calling on clubs to meet their obligation to disabled supporters under the Equality Act, by installing more and better facilities for disabled fans.

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.

“It’s down to the clubs to put this right.

“We’re 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.

“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.”