Pitchside

Only three Premier League clubs provide enough space for wheelchairs

Pitchside

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Wheelchair fans watch West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns (PA Photos)

Only three Premier League clubs provide adequate space for fans in wheelchair, claims a damning report into facilities for disabled people at football grounds.

The minister for disabled people, Mike Penning, has written to every professional club in the country reminding them of their legal obligations after a survey found 17 of 20 top-flight sides allocate insufficient places for wheelchairs.

Swansea City, Cardiff City and Southampton were the only teams to meet the minimum standards as set out by the Accessible Stadia Guide, in a report conducted by the BBC and Level Playing Field a charity promoting the inetersts of fans with disabilities.

The number of wheelchair spaces required is based on stadium size - grounds with a 20,000 capacity should have 150, rising by three for every 1,000 seats. Grounds over 40,000 should have at least 210 wheelchair spaces.

Fulham come bottom of the table, providing just 24% of the recommended allocation at their picturesque but wheelchair-unfriendly Craven Cottage ground.

Tottenham Hotspur, who spent £107 million on new players last summer, came next with just 28%.

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(Photo: Newcastle's Steven Taylor celebrates with a fan in a wheelchair)

Global giants Manchester United, who recently awarded Wayne Rooney a contract worth a reported £300,000 a week, let the side down with less than half the recommended wheelchair space - as do Liverpool and Chelsea.

Penning said: "The situation is currently woefully inadequate and it is not only wheelchair access that falls short, but access for people with all kinds of impairments."

Joyce Cook, chair of Level Playing Field, said: "The experience of disabled football fans varies across the country. That's not acceptable and it's time all football clubs took their legal obligations seriously."

As well as having insufficient places, wheelchair fans often suffer difficulties such as having their line of sight obscured by fans in front of them standing up, or being placed at pitch level where their view is very limited.

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