Level Playing Field responds to the recent news concerning the Kick It Out Advanced Level Equality Standard awarded to Chelsea FC
Kick it Out announced yesterday afternoon that they had awarded their Advanced Level Equality Standard to Chelsea FC at last weekend’s League winning fixture: http://www.kickitout.org/news/chelsea-awarded-advanced-level-of-equality-standard/#.VUjkJM50aM6
In responding to the news that KIO awarded its Advanced Equality Standard to Chelsea FC on 3rd May 2015, Joyce Cook OBE, Level Playing Field Chair said:
“LPF was deeply disappointed to hear last night of Kick it Out’s most recent award of their Advanced Equality Standard to a PL club that is not even meeting football’s own minimum standards for disabled fans.” “When considering an advanced award in any walk of life, surely it is not unreasonable to expect the recipient to meet best practice standards.”
“The 2013 BBC Sports investigation into PL clubs highlighted the lack of provisions for disabled fans with Chelsea ranked 14th (at only 47% provisions) in the Premier League. The BBC’s findings were further validated in the recent Sunday Observer and Guardian independent investigation in to the poor provisions for disabled fans at all but 3 PL clubs.”
“Indeed, we first met with Kick it Out (KIO) about their Equality Standards back in 2012 to express our significant concerns and as a direct outcome of the KIO Advanced Award that had been made to another PL club, Aston Villa (ranked even lower at only 18th and meeting only 39% of football’s own minimum requirements). We requested the meeting following complaints from disabled fans who had been outraged by KIO’s decision. We were reassured at the time that greater consideration and consultation with LPF and other accessibility experts would be taken by KIO going forward to ensure that access and inclusion for disabled fans would be a core part of their decision process and to ensure that we could each offer the best support to clubs in putting things right. LPF considered that to be more than reasonable and has always been happy to work with Kick it Out towards a common goal to eradicate all forms of discrimination in football.”
“In support of our ongoing cooperation, LPF currently sits on KIO’s Professional Game Guidance Group and the two charities meet on a regular basis, yet the first we knew of this latest KIO Advanced Equality Award was yesterday in reading the news on Kick it Out’s website.”
“We are now seeking urgent talks with Kick it Out and wish to reassure disabled fans that have contacted us about this latest award that we will be putting forward their serious concerns very clearly in our ongoing discussions.”
“An Equality Standard must surely consider all aspects of the Equality Act and those protected by it if it is to be credible, valued and recognised by the communities it serves. For disabled people and football clubs that has to include matchday accessibility and true inclusion for disabled fans. Clearly that just isn’t the case at the moment.”
The BBC Sports investigation into PL clubs and their lack of provisions for disabled fans in March 2014 highlighted the issues at Chelsea (ranked only 14th) and Aston Villa (ranked even lower at 18th) in the BBC league table concerning poor provisions for disabled fans. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/26630281 and the Guardian and Sunday Observer investigation in March 2015 further validated the issues highlighted. The storylines can be found on their websites http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/mar/07/disabled-fans-premier-league-grounds and http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/mar/07/premier-league-disabled-fans
Kick it Out announcement - 3rd May 2015
"Chelsea became the third club in the country to achieve the Advanced Level of Kick It Out’s Equality Standard as they were awarded the accolade in a special presentation prior to sealing the Premier League title with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Sunday (3 May).
Lord Herman Ouseley, our Chair, and Roisin Wood, our Director, presented the award to Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck. They were joined by a number of representatives from across Chelsea’s diverse programmes, falling under their ‘Building Bridges’ campaign, including former Asian Star winner and Nottingham Forest academy player Sam Khan, and Chelsea Disability team coaches Rob Seale and Jonathon Tear.
The award sees Chelsea join Arsenal and Aston Villa as the only clubs to have achieved the Advanced Level. Buck said: “Naturally we are delighted to see our equality work recognised in this way however at Chelsea we never rest on our laurels on or off the pitch. This award serves as inspiration to continue our fight against discrimination and make our club open and accessible to all."
About Level Playing Field
Level Playing Field (LPF) was established in 1998 as The National Association of Disabled Supporters (NADS). LPF is the only national registered charity for England and Wales representing disabled fans of all sports together with their personal assistants and advocates. LPF engages with stakeholders from across football and other sports and is proud to have a wide membership that demonstrates this critical collaboration.
LPF’s key objectives are; to be a voice for all disabled fans; to promote an inclusive agenda and ensure an equality of experiences for all fans; to enable more disabled people to attend live football and other sporting events; to raise disability and access awareness through football and other sports and to utilise the unique voice of football to raise awareness and improve the situation more widely across our society.