Swansea, Bournemouth & Leicester Top the Table for Fan Accessibility

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The hotly debated Premier League table for disabled access makes worrying reading, unless you are a Swansea City fan, writes Fraser Watson.

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It’s the sight that all Swansea City fans long to see – their side clear at the top of the Premiership table.

Granted, it is a table with an unfamiliar ring to it, with newly promoted Bournemouth in second place, Leicester City third, and Arsenal fourth.

Indeed, champions Chelsea are back in 12th, while big spending Manchester City and near rivals United are sixth and 16th respectively.

Tottenham Hotspur meanwhile, are well off the pace, as they prop up the table in 20th place.

Of course, it is too early to be talking about a Premier League table that incorporates league points – I am talking about the table that reflects access for disabled people to football grounds, a subject of hot debate in the House of Lords yesterday.

Peers discussed the proposed Accessible Sports Grounds Bill, which if passed, will hand local authorities powers to force clubs to make their stadia more accessible.

Paralympian Lord Holmes of Richmond cited the example of one Chelsea fan, who had apparently been told to wait until the club has a new stadium in 2022 before the accessibility at Stamford Bridge would be improved.

And worryingly, 17 Premier League clubs have been deemed to supply insufficient wheelchair user spaces, in relation to the size of their stadium.

Swansea however, are one club exempt from such criticism, and are joined by Bournemouth and Leicester as the only three top flight clubs to exceed the recommended number of disabled spaces.

The Liberty Stadium has 280 such spaces, well above its recommended allocation of 150. Technically, the club is hitting 187% of its target.

To put that into perspective, White Hart Lane has 56 spaces, a mere 28% of its recommended number of 198.

Furthermore, Swansea have traditionally allowed carers of disabled match goers free entrance, as long as the application is made in advance, even when a wheelchair space is not required.

And correctly so. With the current finances and facilities available to Premiership clubs, a failure to install the provisions that allow disabled people to follow their clubs is inexcusable.

We are constantly being told that the Premier League should be considered one of the biggest and most gripping sporting events on the planet. Therefore, accessibility to it, for everyone, should reflect that.

Full credit should go to Swansea, not to mention Bournemouth and Leicester, for looking after their own supporters and meeting the required target. On the other hand, there are 17 other Premier League clubs out there with work to do.

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