Kilmarnock FC reaches agreement over disability access at games

By agency reporter
October 7, 2018

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in Scotland has announced the agreement of a settlement with Kilmarnock FC which ensures that disabled away fans will be able to sit where they want to rather than being forced to sit apart from the other away supporters.

The case was raised by Peter Holden, a St Johnstone fan who has cerebral palsy who was forced to sit in another part of the ground separated from his fellow St Johnstone fans.

Peter said: "I’m glad that this has been resolved. When I went to Rugby Park I was told that because I had a 'disabled ticket' I couldn’t sit with the rest of the away support. When I challenged this I was told it was for health and safety reasons.

"I was left sitting by myself surrounded by rows of empty seating. It’s not really the best way to watch a game. Part of the fun of football is the atmosphere. It’s quite difficult to have a good time by yourself – you want to be with the rest of the supporters.

"I was surprised because at any other away game I’ve attended this hasn’t been a problem – I can sit where I want, which is with the away support. It’s only been a problem at Rugby Park."

Having received Peter Holden's complain,t the EHRC met with him and the club and agreed a new approach which means that disabled away fans can buy a 'disabled ticket' which does not restrict them to sitting in a specific part of the ground.

Speaking about the settlement Lynn Welsh, Head of Legal for the EHRC said: "It looks like an overzealous use of health and safety which was applied without thinking about the impact on individuals. Nobody wants to be made to feel different.

"The law is very clear – service providers like football clubs are required to consider disability access before someone arrives at the ground. They should prepare for all types of fans with or without disabilities. In this case that didn’t happen and Peter was made to feel different.

"Unfortunately this isn’t only a problem with football. Too many disabled people tell us about being treated differently in pubs or clubs. Recently music venues have come under the spotlight. The principle is the same – if you are going to an entertainment venue you’ll want to share the experience with your friends.

"Earlier this year we entered into a formal agreement with Chelsea FC which requires them to improve their disability access. We’re glad that we didn’t have to go this far with Kilmarnock. Once the problem was explained fully to them we’re pleased that they did the right thing and put in place new rules which benefit everyone."

As part of the settlement Peter Holden also received an apology from the chair and complimentary tickets for a game last August.

* Equality and Human Rights Commission https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en

[Ekk/6]

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