Wrexham AFC and Wrexham DSA have once again received nationwide recognition for their positive and driven approach to improving disabled access at My Racecourse Stadium, and been used as an example to highlight the accessibility failings of some of the biggest names in club football within the UK.
On Friday evening a report by Jacqui Adeniji-Williams, as part of the ‘No Go Britain’ series produced by Channel 4 News went out to the nation.
In November Jacqui and the Channel 4 crew visited the Racecourse to meet and speak with Wrexham DSA committee members Andrew Pierce and Nathan Davies, to see for themselves the great work being undertaken by Wrexham AFC, its DSA, and its supporters who must also be commended for buying in to what the club and DSA are trying to achieve.
The series has been looking at the severe lack of suitable disabled facilities and poor access at a variety of public places, including at football stadia. However, as well as highlighting failings, they have also been keen to show success.
Wrexham’s story of overcoming the hurdles of finance and an aging stadium to complete the construction of viewing platform one, has shown that there are no excuses for those with the wealth and resources to make the vast improvements needed to accessibility and meet with requirements set by The House of Commons Select Committee, for Culture, Media, and Sport.
91 football league clubs were overlooked in order to pay Wrexham a visit which speaks volumes about the good work being done at the club. Leicester City were also praised as part of the series for their installation of ‘My Changing Place’ disabled toilets complete with hoist and changing bench, meaning disabled people no longer have to change on toilet floors, which must also be commended.
If you missed the ‘No Go Britain’ report filmed in part at My Racecourse Stadium, it can be watched again using the link below;
House of Commons Select Committee; for Culture, Media and Sport – Accessibility of Sports Stadia Report
Swiftly following on from Friday’s excellent coverage, Wrexham AFC then received great praise from the House of Commons Select Committee in Monday’s conclusions and recommendations from the Accessibility of Sport Stadia Report.
Following a BBC investigation in 2014 which found that 17 of the 20 clubs in the top flight at that time had failed to provide enough wheelchair spaces, in 2015 the league promised to improve stadium facilities for disabled fans, stating that clubs would comply with official guidance by August 2017.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee report says it is "very clear" that sports clubs, notably many of those with very considerable income and resources, have not done anywhere near enough for sports fans with disabilities in recent years, despite the increase in income many of those clubs have enjoyed.
Damian Collins MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"When we see examples of good practice at some clubs that are already providing disabled supporters with a good experience when they attend matches, it is especially disappointing that some of the rich clubs are not doing more. Sports fans with disabilities are not asking for a large number of expensive changes - only to have their needs taken into account in the way sports stadia are designed and operated. It is high time that sports clubs, especially for example those with plenty of resources as in football's Premier League, changed their mind-set. This isn’t really about money, it’s about the will to do it.”
Included in this report it was stated that Wrexham AFC are “exemplars of best practice” along with fellow non-league clubs Tranmere Rovers and Egham Town, and Derby County of the Championship, in making their clubs truly welcoming of disabled supporters.
As a result, Wrexham DSA have received great praise and support for this and future projects from Parliamentarian and 9x Paralympic Gold medallist Lord Chris Holmes MBE, as well as from local MP Ian Lucas.
The full Commons Committee report on stadia accessibility can be found using the link below;