Wrexham AFC is committed to improving and extending the facilities available to our disabled supporters and over the summer, members of Wrexham Supporters Trust Board and the Wrexham AFC Operational Board met with DSA representatives and the club’s Disability Liaison Officer to share our plans for creating an additional Disabled Access Platform as soon as possible.
We are now in a position to provide more detail of how we intend to achieve this important objective which has been under consideration for some time.
What is our plan?
Our plan is to create a new covered raised platform viewing area platform viewing area linking the University End and the BKoncepts Stand. We see this as the best option in the next phase of our development of disabled facilities as:
1. This is the solution that we can progress quickest and provide additional higher-level viewing with cover from the elements for wheelchair users and their carers
2. It allows for both home and away supporters to use the new facilities and doesn’t limit its usage
3. It will not require lift equipment with the subsequent ongoing maintenance and possible point of failure and therefore has the benefit of reducing the costs involved
4. There are catering facilities already available in that area, and, with adaptions to the already existing block, disabled toilet facilities in-situ and ready to go
5. It will have the benefits of increasing the capacity of the stadium without being required to remove seats
6. Utilising this area for the new platform will mean that we will be able (subject to health and safety regulation compliance) to keep the away sections in the upper and lower BKoncepts Stand during the construction phase. Alternative plans may have resulted in closing the entire away sections for a number of home matches, and subsequent relocation of both home and away fans or waiting until the next close season
7. Ultimately, as previously communicated, we are working towards a position where we don’t have to move our supporters out of the GUS Stand when we have larger away followings (looking to future seasons, and our return to League football, this could happen on a more regular basis), and this option helps us with that aim
We are of course aware that our way forward is different from the original proposal from some disabled supporters and their continuing work in this vital area is much appreciated. That proposal was for a platform situated within the BKoncepts stand.
How did we arrive at our preferred plan?
We evaluated and carefully considered the two options on the table taking into consideration how we provide the best facilities we can for all fans and how we continue our journey as an inclusive club rooted in its community to arrive at that conclusion.
As well as the benefits (1 to 7) outlined above our plan addresses some of the challenges and concerns the other option presented, these included:
- It would require the removal of 104 seats from the lower Mold End of the stand and due to the potential to create interference with the line of sight for the remaining higher tier seating, reducing the upper tier capacity above this number
- It would also result in the removal of the current in situ catering facility which serves the lower tier. This would mean we possibly could not use any of the seats in that area, including the proposed platform as the two areas, upper and lower tier, are separate units for both security and health and safety purposes, with separate facilities. This could result in a loss of over 450 seats whether the platform was in use or not
We all want to see improved facilities for all our supporters and, taking all considerations into account, we believe that a new covered raised platform viewing linking the University End and the BKoncepts stand is the best option for the next phase our disabled facilities and is one which is achievable without significant delay.
Phil Salmon, Wrexham Football Club Director is responsible for leading this project, working with all parties to make this happen as soon as possible subject to planning and compliance with health and safety regulations. We committed to work together to ensure we continue to improve facilities and the experience for disabled supporters and with this in mind we have agreed with the DSA to form a working group going forward which can complement the excellent work underway by the Disabled Liaison Officer at the club. As with any development of this sort it is important to point out that any proposal will require planning ratification through the local authority and we will keep everyone updated as plans progress, we hope, rapidly.