Recent research led by Age UK Mobility has found that English clubs lead the way in Europe regarding the accessibility of their stadiums.
The article about the accessibility of Champions League stadiums highlighted the difficulties some fans experience when they want to watch their favourite team.
The study analysed the disabled facilities in each club’s stadium in the 2022/23 competition to determine which are the most accessible in UEFA’s prestigious tournament.
Manchester City were found to have the most accessible Champions League stadium, with the other three Premier League clubs just behind them in the rankings.
The Etihad Stadium beat every other venue in this season’s competition, garnering top points in every category analysed bar one.
In addition to having the highest number of wheelchair seats (255), City also have an Assistive Hearing System installed and Sensory Suites.
Tottenham Hotspur (254), Liverpool (239) and Chelsea (223) were among just five other clubs with 200 or more wheelchair seats in their stadiums.
Interestingly, City are not top of the pile for accessibility in the Premier League, with Brighton & Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium scooping that accolade.
Southampton, Everton and Newcastle United also rank highly, finishing significantly ahead of big hitters such as Chelsea and Manchester United.
In terms of staging Champions League fixtures, the four Spanish participants have work to do to improve the accessibility of their stadiums.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla finished in the bottom six, just ahead of Napoli, Maccabi Haifa and Viktoria Plzen.
Atletico Madrid were also in the bottom half of the standings alongside big clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Benfica.
However, the big two in La Liga’s apparent indifference towards accessibility issues is perhaps the most noteworthy finding in the report.
Barca’s sprawling Nou Camp stadium only offers 48 wheelchair seats out of a massive 99,354 capacity – one of the poorest ratios in the competition (0.04%).
It is a similar story at Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium, with the 45 wheelchair seats available there equating to a miserly 0.05% of the capacity.
While Spanish clubs largely lag behind their European counterparts in the accessibility stakes, the overall picture is not overly positive.
No club in this season’s Champions League has more than 0.5% of wheelchair seats per the capacity of their stadium.
More than half of the grounds do not offer an assistive hearing system, while 13 out of the 32 stadiums do not allow entry to guide dogs.
Over one-third of the clubs also fail to indicate the availability of key accessibility features on their website, further highlighting how they need to up their game.
Of the 32 clubs competing in this season’s Champions League contacted by the study coordinators, only 14 responded to confirm the information about the accessibility facilities their stadium offers.
Considering that around 15% of the global population lives with some form of disability, football undoubtedly still has plenty of scope for improvement.
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