The international break, where the premier league takes a week off, can be a great time to reflect on the season that began all the way back in August.
For Disabled fans in Manchester (and likely further afield too), this year’s break gave a chance to review the news of progress and accessibility.
In September, the Manchester United Disabled Supporter Association (MUDSA) hosted an event in the famous Stretford End of Old Trafford with a newly installed elevated viewing area for wheelchair users.
The result of an £11 million project improved the number of wheelchair user viewing areas and ambulant Disabled supporter seating across the stadium. The new area is situated in the roof of the Stretford End. A decision which was taken after the club asked Disabled supporters for their ideas on how to make the stadium more accessible.
The project has been welcomed, especially as Manchester United was among 13 premier league clubs criticised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2017 for failing to provide minimum levels of access.
Finally, Disabled fans visiting Old Trafford now have a choice of where they can sit and view the game. Away wheelchair user fans have also been re-located as a part of the project.
The Chair of MUDSA Chas Banks officially opened the viewing area at the event and unveiled a commemorative plaque.
He said: “Because of the “can do” approach the club applied to all these improvements, and of course the money they invested into the project, we’ve more than doubled the number of Disabled fans who can attend matches and made many, many people’s dreams come true.
Working together is the key here though because at every stage we weren’t just consulted, but listened to and many of our suggestions were taken on board and incorporated into the project.
“Personally, I’m particularly thrilled to see the flexibility that has been built into the platforms, to allow seats to become wheelchair spaces and wheelchair spaces to become seats.”
Level Playing Field chief executive Owain Davies who also attended the event said: “The new facilities provide fans with a choice where they can sit. The new elevated space at the Stretford End (West Stand) demonstrates this, and undoubtedly a huge amount of work has gone into the project.
“Having a choice is a fundamental aspect of life and allowing Disabled fans to choose where they sit is a huge plus point following the completion of the project. Seeing fans being able to watch from the iconic Stretford End from this season and beyond is a significant milestone.
We are looking forward to seeing fans make use of all the new space/seats and we are glad that we could support this great event.”
Want to read more about promoting a positive, inclusive experience for Disabled sports fans? Visit the Level Playing Field website here.