To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what financial support she provides to small football clubs to improve disabled access at such clubs.
Through the Football Foundation, the Government is investing £18 million each year in partnership with the Premier League and The FA to amateur football clubs, schools, councils and local sports associations to support the development of new or refurbished local football facilities. This includes facilities that greatly improve the access to disabled people as users of these sites.
Over and above merely increasing access and opportunities for disabled sports people to play regular sport, many of these facilities also become key venues at which disability-focused community programmes are delivered by professional football clubs’ trusts, charities and other organisations.
These schemes often achieve multiple social outcomes beyond sport, such as improving the health and wellbeing of disabled players. These schemes also engage many different types of disability, including wheelchair football, visually-impaired and blind football, and deaf and hearing-impaired football.
The Equality Act 2010 requires that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are made by service providers, which include the owners of football stadia, to make premises accessible for disabled people. It is for individual clubs to determine what adjustments are ‘reasonable’ taking into account their own circumstances. Structural changes are not always necessary to make sports grounds accessible to spectators with disabilities. Clubs can also change policies and procedures to make their grounds more accessible to disabled spectators.
The Football Stadia Improvement Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, provides money for clubs in the Football League and The FA National League System down to step 7 who want to improve their facilities for players, officials and spectators. Bids to the Fund must enable clubs to meet the membership conditions of their particular leagues, but clubs may also be eligible to apply for funding to provide facilities for disabled spectators. Further information can be found at:www.fsif.co.uk/.