Accessible Sports Ground Bill: second reading in the House of Lords

Lord Faulkner of Worcester's Private Members' Bill

17 July 2015

The Accessible Sports Ground Bill (‘the Bill’) would require sports bodies to comply with the ‘Accessible Stadia’ guidelines published in 2003 by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, which aim to improve accessibility to sports stadia for disabled spectators. The Commission welcomes the opportunity the Bill provides for this extremely important issue to be highlighted and discussed.

The Commission strongly supports the aim of this Bill.

Under the Equality Act 2010 (and previously under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995), sports bodies have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers which put disabled people at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to people who are not disabled, so that they can access sports grounds. This duty is anticipatory - sports bodies are required to consider in advance what adjustments are needed to facilitate access for disabled people; they should not wait until a disabled person asks for a reasonable adjustment to be made. For example, a football club should anticipate that disabled spectators will want to access its stadium facilities and should put appropriate policies and adjustments in place.

The Olympics and Paralympics showed that it is perfectly possible to provide accessible venues, good views and provision where non-disabled and disabled people can sit alongside each other. These events demonstrated what can be achieved when there is real intention and commitment.

However, despite the existing legal duty on sports bodies, in many cases disabled spectators are still not able to access sports stadia on a par with non-disabled spectators. Over recent months, the Commission has received a number of complaints about provision for disabled fans at Premier League football clubs, including reports of discriminatory policies that prevent disabled fans having the same opportunities to attend football matches as non-disabled people.

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Last updated: 22 Apr 2016