Crystal Palace Report

Away wheelchair platform - obstructed views and disabled supporter safety

Extracts from letters to Steve Parish - 8th April 2022


Given the deluge of complaints I have received from away disabled supporters concerning the obstructed views at your Selhurst Park Stadium I felt I had to write directly to you.

This problem is significantly affecting those in wheelchairs and also ambulant supporters who are unable to stand easily.

Having reviewed the photos I would also ask, that in the interim period before planned stadium developments commence, you to consider netting off two rows in front of the wheelchairs with adequate stewarding to allow them to enjoy the match with an unobstructed view.

Second letter - 22nd May 2022

“Permitted Standing is unanimously supported by the Premier League Disability Advisory Group for the increased safety aspects preventing crowd surge but with the strong caveat of protecting sight lines for disabled supporters.

So many of the clubs have ignored the ASG 75% elevated rule for wheelchair and ambulant supporters and this has exacerbated the problem.

Thousands of disabled fans are being deprived of their enjoyment of the game and this problem can only grow as more standing is permitted or where standing restrictions increasingly ignored or are removed altogether.

See below the view from a wheelchair in the away section at Crystal Palace FC.

DAG will continue to pursue, to create a legal precedent, conformation from EHRC concerning the Equality Act 2010 Section 20 whereby clubs are legally obliged to make “reasonable adjustments” and we believe it is a case in point that if the clubs knowingly permit disabled supporters to continuously suffer obstructed views then this is a breach.

It may be necessary for a wheelchair supporter who has been affected by such an unacceptable view to bring a case to court to gain a legal judgement.

Positive response from Crystal Palace -

“We are introducing Accessibility Hosts to work alongside stewards in the away section (and eventually throughout the stadium) who will be employed directly by CPFC and assigned their own section for every home game. The sole responsibility of an Accessibility Host will be to tend to disabled supporters and liaise directly with stewards deployed to these areas, the DAO/DLO and have direct contact with the control room should the need arise.

Each host will have access to blankets, radar keys and wheelchair ponchos for those who are situated on our pitchside platform where they are exposed to the elements. They will be able to deal with general questions, issues/concerns that may arise and offer additional support to supporters as well as their companions.”

Risers will also be installed to significantly improved the view from a wheelchair.

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Additional response - Crystal Palace away end issues :- July 2022

Hi David,

It was good talking to you earlier and apologies again for the delay in providing an update.

Below is a summary of what we discussed:

Sightlines

We are still committed to ensuring that the necessary improvements are made so that supporters using the wheelchair viewing platform are not impeded by supporters standing in front.

We have looked at installing risers, but have found that the view for supporters seated in the easy access seats behind would then also have their view obstructed.

We are confident that blocking the row in front of the platform will vastly improve the sightlines for wheelchair users, but will ofcourse review feedback after each game and make further adjustments if required to.

With regards to non-disabled supporters standing on the wheelchair viewing platforms, I am currently looking at the possibility of introducing Tensa Barriers, which will be operated by the Accessibility Hosts, to provide a physical deterrent and stop unauthorised supporters entering into these zones.

Stewarding

We have had a successful recruitment drive since the end of the season, but, unfortunately, will still need to utilise agency staff in the away section. We have already held meetings with the owner regarding improvements in the quality of staffing and we also now write/present a match specific Accessibility Briefing.

Ben Collins, our Matchday Safety Officer, has again reiterated the seriousness of the complaints we have received, and we will both be monitoring their performance closely as well as requesting additional stewards to prevent non-disabled supporters from using/loitering around the accessible ramp at the side of the stand.

Accessibility Hosts

For the last few games of the season, we introduced an Accessibility Host to the away wheelchair viewing platform which provided a specific “go to” member of staff who could focus solely on ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for disabled supporters visiting Selhurst Park.

Accessibility Hosts will be available throughout the stadium on a matchday for 2022/23.

As previously mentioned, we welcome feedback from supporters travelling from any clubs visiting Selhurst Park and I am more than happy to set up regular reviews so that you can report on any comments/suggestions you receive and keep you updated on any improvements we have made.

Take care

Nikki


NicolaGibbons

Supporter Liaison Officer and Disability Access Officer

0203 617 2114