"Get to know your supporters and the stadium as a whole"

 

Dan Lovesey

Dan Lovesey was appointed as Manchester City’s full-time DAO in June 2016. Below, Dan talks about his regular and ad hoc duties, the importance of creating a disability network and some of the challenges he has faced so far.

 

What does a typical day as DAO at Manchester City look like?

Manchester City prides itself on being inclusive and working with all its supporters. My role is to offer assistance and advice to our disabled supporters, be it on a matchday or a non-matchday.

 

Typically, my day involves working with the club’s disability access advisor and liaising with our supporters on a wide range of topics. I constantly monitor and review our staff training on accessibility, disability etiquette and other equality and diversity issues to ensure our supporters have the best possible experience. I also work with the club to identify improvements to accessible areas inside and outside the stadium.

 

On a matchday, I coordinate parking requests, communicate any changes to our supporters and am on hand to provide any assistance required.

I’m also the main point of contact for Manchester City’s disabled supporters association and disability organisations such as Level Playing Field, a disabled supporters association covering England and Wales.

 

What kind of ad hoc duties are you required to carry out as the DAO for your club?

The DAO role is extremely varied and diverse. I’m also responsible for auditing equipment such as induction loops, staff training and assisting our supporter services team with disabled ticketing requests.

 

Before an away game, I will also gather as much information as I can on accessibility at the other club and communicate this to our travelling supporters.

 

Is there anything in particular that you have successfully implemented or changed at your club as DAO?

I’m proud to be part of a team that has implemented several improvements at the City of Manchester Stadium. Working with our disabled fans and listening to what they need, we have introduced winter warming packs (which include hand warmers and foil ponchos) and hand-held menus for matchdays. We have also implemented larger improvements, such as the installation of our Changing Places facility, which includes a hoist, a changing table and an adjustable sink and shower.

 

All of these enhancements are equally important and have a positive impact on the supporter and their experience when visiting the stadium.

 

We constantly work with our supporters to enhance accessibility throughout the whole supporter journey, and we are currently working on a number of future developments.

 

What are some of the challenges you have faced in your role as DAO and how have you dealt with them?

Football is a fast-paced environment, and one of the things that I am actively working on is the ability to provide as much access information as possible to disabled fans who travel to away grounds. It can be challenging to collate this information and make it available in time for matches.

 

How do you meet, liaise and work with your club’s disabled fans?

I meet with the Manchester City Disabled Supporters Association on a regular basis to ensure I have a direct connection with the fans. I am based in the supporter services team, and this provides an opportunity to work with the disability access advisor to take care of supporter emails and phone calls. On a matchday, the access team is visible and based at the accessible entrances to support staff and supporters.

 

What impact do you think Article 35bis of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, which requires clubs to appoint a DAO, will have on football?

This can only be a positive thing. It will ensure that clubs have someone in place to take responsibility for access, that the clubs themselves invest in this process, and that this is done consistently throughout European football.

 

What top three tips would you give someone who is about to start work as a DAO at a club?

1. Get to know your supporters. We recently conducted an access survey to find out what is important to them. My main focus is providing the best possible facilities and experience for disabled supporters, but it is very much about achieving access for all.

 

2. Look at the whole supporter journey – planning how to get here, buying tickets, watching the match, and then getting home – from the perspective of both home and away supporters.

 

3. Get to know the stadium as a whole – not just the accessible seating areas, but all areas of the stadium – on matchdays and non-matchdays alike.

 

 

Click here to download the UEFA and CAFE Disability Access Officer Handbook.