If you’ve ever needed to use a wheelchair, then you’ve quickly learned how difficult it is when places aren’t accessible. Locations that have built facilities to ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, can use and enjoy their facilities are unfortunately much rarer than they should be. Football is the number one sport in the UK, and it’s no surprise that a popular question is which football stadiums are accessible. If you’re looking for more information on the most accessible stadiums, keep reading to learn more.
Smaller is Better
I would have never guessed it, but the results are in and smaller stadiums actually are more accessible than the larger ones. The most accessible Premier League Stadium is Brighton and Hove Albion, followed by Southampton and Watford as reported in Age UK’s accessible premier league stadiums article. This is a real shame because the larger stadiums obviously cost more and can host larger matches but without accessibility features this isolates and excludes a large part of our population.
Norwich City, Manchester United and Burnley stadiums are ranked as the least accessible, making it harder for their fans to get out there and support their teams looking for soccer. I was personally surprised to see the Manchester United Premier Stadium ranking slow, as it’s one of the most popular teams in the UK and has a following to match. Only 0.22% of seats in the Manchester United Stadium are wheelchair friendly.
Brighton and Hove Albion Stadium
Rated as the most accessible Premier League Stadium, Brighton and Hove Albion Stadium offers numerous services and features that makes it more inclusive. Here you’ll find specially designed entrances, lifts, toilets, ticket counters that are all accessible and allow wheelchair users to easily navigate these services. There are also specific wheelchair accessible viewing areas, ensuring that wheelchair users can comfortably see the match.
There are services for hearing compromised individuals, such as assistive hearing systems and audio descriptive commentary to ensure that everyone can enjoy the matches here. For those of us who use animals to help us navigate the world, there’s even an assistive animal welcome. One of the features that made this stadium rank so high is the 220 wheelchair spaces in the stadium, the highest percentage of wheelchair spaces for the stadium size. This is a stadium that sets the standard in inclusion and accessibility, and it is my hope that in future the larger stadiums can improve their facilities to allow everyone to enjoy watching their favourite team.
Many stadiums have a long way to go before they can be really considered accessible to all. Thankfully we have a few great stadiums who are paving the way and offering numerous facilities to help people of varied abilities enjoy the wonderful sport of football.