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A quarter of Premier League clubs don’t provide fully-accessible toilets for disabled football fans

29 August 2019

Muscular Dystrophy UK’s figures show five Premier League clubs do not have a registered Changing Places toilet, needed by a quarter of a million people in the UK. The charity is calling for at least one facility at each ground by the start of the 2020/21 season.

A quarter of Premier League clubs do not provide fully-accessible toilets known as Changing Places, which are essential for more than 250,000 people across the country with severe disabilities.

According to Muscular Dystrophy UK’s data, newly-promoted Sheffield United, Aston Villa and Norwich do not have a registered permanent facility, and neither do Wolves or Bournemouth. Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Burnley have confirmed they are in the process of registering their respective Changing Places toilets.

At the other end of the scale, Tottenham Hotspur have three Changing Places toilets, and Liverpool and West Ham United have two apiece.

Clare Lucas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:

Football should be accessible to everyone, but too many disabled fans are put off going to matches because the facilities don’t meet their needs. Premier League clubs have a vital part to play in making the game more inclusive. We would encourage all those who haven’t done so already to lead by example by installing at least one Changing Places toilet.

Ahead of the start of the Premier League season this weekend, Muscular Dystrophy UK is also calling on clubs to work with the charity and other organisations to ensure stadiums are accessible. That includes ensuring they provide the minimum number of wheelchair spaces[1] and publish up-to-date disability access statements.

Clare added:

No one should have to give up going to a football match because it is not accessible. Many sports grounds provide too little space for disabled fans, who often find themselves sitting apart from friends and family. We also know seating can often be exposed and views restricted.

Vicki Dennis has a form of muscular dystrophy, and is a former West Ham United season ticket holder. She said:

I’ve been to games where the disabled toilets are filthy because they are open for everyone to use, while on other occasions they have been locked so I’m forced to hold it in. Often, I’ll go without eating or drinking, because there are no food stalls up in the stands, and it’s hard to get down to the busy concourse.

Everyone should be able to enjoy a day out at the football, and I would like to see clubs working with disabled fans and listening to feedback on their experiences.

Harry Bestwick, 14, has been an Arsenal season ticket holder for four years. He said:

I have been privileged to visit many different stadiums while following Arsenal. For a good overall matchday experience, stadiums must have accessible parking for disabled people, as well as good transport links. When inside the ground, accessible Changing Places toilets and adequate viewing for disabled people are essential.

For me, the Emirates is brilliant. It is easily accessible by train, which isn’t always the case with other stadiums, which I’ve always driven to. All stadiums must have accessible wheelchair areas to watch the game and unrestricted wheelchair viewing. The best part of my matchday experience is mixing with all the other fans and seeing games live.

Of the 72 football league clubs, six – Queens Park Rangers, West Brom, Preston North End, Middlesbrough (Championship); and Tranmere Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons (League One) – have a registered Changing Places toilet. National League side Chesterfield also has a facility.

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