Manchester United ‘refuse to sell season tickets to disabled supporters’, claims Baroness Grey-Thompson
Manchester United refuse to sell disabled supporters season tickets, Baroness Grey-Thompson has claimed.
The 11-time Paralympic gold medallist has called for the Government to do more to make football clubs cater for disabled supporters with her comments coming after Mike Penning, the disabilities minister, said clubs needed to tackle a ‘woeful’ lack of facilities this year.
Lady Grey-Thompson, an independent crossbench peer, said at question time in the House of Lords: ‘Certain Premier League football clubs such as Manchester United refuse to sell season tickets to disabled supporters and they only have 42 per cent of the accessible seating that they should.
Standing room only: Baroness Grey-Thompson says Manchester United is one of the Premier League clubs that refuse to sell disabled fans season tickets, though the club refute the claim
‘At other clubs it is impossible to buy one because of the lack of accessible seating.
‘What steps are the Government taking to ensure fair ticketing for all spectators and fans?’
Fair go for all: Lady Grey-Thompson, pictured here at the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards, wants the Government to better cater for disabled supporters
Lord Gardiner of Kimble, answering for the Government, told her: ‘The Equality Act prohibits discrimination against disabled people in provision of goods, facilities and services.’
He said the issue was ‘absolutely a fixture’ at meetings between football clubs and ministers and they ‘ought to know better and do better’.
He told peers: ‘The Government is committed to ensuring all spectators have enhanced and appropriate access to sporting venues and services and that professional sports clubs are aware of their responsibilities towards disabled spectators.’
Labour’s Lord Faulkner of Worcester called for the law to be ‘properly enforced’ and said only three Premier League clubs complied with the number of disabled spaces they were required to provide.
Lord Gardiner said that Premier League football clubs had ‘very considerable means and they should be looking to do very much better’.
Labour’s Lord Foulkes of Cumnock said: ‘There is a country that is better than we are at access for disabled people, better at training young people in football, cheaper as far as access to the stadia are concerned, better in terms of all the facilities in the stadia, whose example we could well follow. That country is the Federal Republic of Germany.’
Lord Gardiner said there were ‘lessons to be learnt for many countries’ about the abilities of the German players who won the World Cup.
Denied: A Manchester United spokesman says the clubs makes some season passes available for disabled fans
Pressed by Labour spokesman Lord Rosser on the need for further legislation, Lord Gardiner said ‘no one would rule it out’ if it became necessary, but he said that legislation could be a “blunt instrument’.
A Manchester United spokesman told Sportsmail: ‘Manchester United makes a number of season tickets available for the club’s disabled fans.
‘Due to the high number of requests and limited supply, any remaining allocation are then distributed on a match-by-match basis in order to allow as many disabled fans as possible the chance to attend matches at Old Trafford.
‘The club caters for all categories of disabled fans and the majority of these tickets are provided free of charge, with additional free tickets for carers.’