Manchester United has experienced some set-backs on its accessibility improvement works which are due to be completed for the 2020-21 season, but it insists it is still on track to meet its deadline.
The football club began work on the improvements to Old Trafford’s provision for disabled supporters at the end of last season, creating over 300 new positions for disabled supporters, including the installation of new wheelchair user platforms, the widening of vomitories and new amenity seats for other disabled supporters.
A statement read: “Work is “progressing well, although, like any significant building project on an old structure, there are a few unforeseen setbacks that have added to the complexity of the work across the three stands. The club hopes that all structural work will still be completed ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
“The three-year phased plan is still on course to be completed for the start of the 2020-21 season, however, unfortunately the introduction of new accessible facilities in the North Stand is subject to some delay whilst the club undertake necessary assessments from both a safety and customer service perspective.”
The club is to fully assess the impact of disabled and non-disabled supporters using a shared concourse, before introducing any new facilities. Both computer modelling and ‘real-time’ assessments will be carried out by a third party during the course of the 2017-18 season, in a controlled manner, to ensure the safety of, and provide the best possible experience for all supporters.
Assessments will initially take place in the East Stand where some disabled supporters will make use of a new entrance and share the main concourse with non-disabled supporters for the first time. Due to the size of the East Stand concourse, this area is deemed the most suitable for the initial assessments, allowing the club to better understand the challenges of disabled and non-disabled supporters using a shared concourse in a ‘live’ operational setting, whilst minimising any risk.
Once the results of the initial assessments are known and have been considered, the club will look to broaden the assessments to include other areas for friendlies and cup games not included in the automatic cup scheme; accordingly the club will also review the roll-out plan and communicate ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Premier League have both been made aware of the above, and have been assured of the club’s continued commitment to equality and the fulfilment of our Stadium Accessibility Plans for the start of the 2020-21 season as previously communicated.
Premier League football clubs have been set a deadline for access improvements which is fast approaching. If clubs do not meet their promises by the end of August they could face legal action.