How accessible are Premier League stadiums?

The Premier League prides itself on being the biggest domestic football competition in the world, but how does it fare in the inclusivity stakes?

One of the most important issues facing every top flight club is ensuring their stadiums are accessible for disabled fans and supporters who may need to use walking aids or stair lifts.

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A recent study about accessible Premier League stadiums conducted by Handicare, in partnership with Age Co, has evaluated the accessibility of all 20 Premier League stadiums.

They assess elements such as wheelchair-accessible viewing areas, the number of wheelchair spaces in stadiums and the percentage of disabled seats/spaces per capacity to determine how Premier League clubs stacked up against each other.

Accessible entrances, lifts, toilets and ticket counters were among a plethora of other factors incorporated into the study to determine the final outcome.

The rankings were as follows:

1. Bournemouth

2. Liverpool

3=. Brighton & Hove Albion​

3=. Chelsea​

5. Manchester City

6. Brentford

7. Arsenal​

8=. Newcastle United

8=. West Ham United​

10=. Wolverhampton Wanderers

10=. Tottenham Hotspur

12. Aston Villa

13. Everton​

14. Sheffield Utd​

15. Manchester United

16. Crystal Palace

17. Nottingham Forest

18. Burnley​

19. Fulham​

20. Luton Town

Bournemouth top the accessibility standings

Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium was found to be the most accessible of all Premier League grounds despite having the second-lowest capacity.

The Cherries are the only club to have more than one per centof wheelchair seats per the capacity of their stadium and they have more wheelchair seats than any other club.

The findings highlight that having a large capacity does not necessarily equate to clubs providing an adequate offering for supporters with physical disabilities.

Hannah Powis, the Head of EDI and Engagement at Bournemouth, says the club is eager to ensure that all fans feel included when they visit the Vitality Stadium.

“Accessibility within stadiums is pivotal to ensuring that all supporters can enjoy football without barriers,” she said.

“Bournemouth prides itself on our approach to inclusion – we strive to make our environment and activities such that all individuals and groups feel welcomed, comfortable and safe.

“We work closely with supporters and our Disabled Supporters Association to ensure that we are constantly progressing and creating a welcoming and inclusive matchday experience.”

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Liverpool, Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea and Manchester City also scored well in the study, filling the remaining four places in the top five behind Bournemouth.

The most surprising aspect of the accessibility study is Manchester United finishing in the bottom six despite having the biggest stadium in the Premier League.

Of their 74,140 seats, only 0.3% are wheelchair friendly, a figure which suggests the club is failing to consider the needs of fans with accessibility issues.

However, Old Trafford’s tally of 251 wheelchair seats is the seventh highest in the Premier League, placing it just ahead of Newcastle United and Chelsea in the rankings.

Aside from its lack of sensory rooms, Manchester United’s stadium scores well in each of the other accessibility metrics incorporated in the study.

Despite this, Old Trafford was recently omitted from the list of venues for the 2028 European Championships as it needs significant upgrades making in other areas.

Burnley and Fulham finished in the bottom three in the study, with both clubs failing to match up to their Premier League rivals in several key categories.

Newly-promoted Luton Town finished 20th in the rankings, although this was no real surprise given their stadium is undergoing significant redevelopment work.

Its percentage of wheelchair seats/spaces per capacity of 0.2% is one of the lowest in the league, but this will likely increase once the work has been completed.

While the study shows that Premier League clubs generally take accessibility issues seriously, there are undoubtedly still some areas which need to be improved.

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