Manchester United have hit a snag in their ongoing work on the improvements to Old Trafford’s provision for disabled supporters.
The plans cover 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.
Because the changes will displace some 2,600 season ticket holders, the club developed a three-year phased programme of relocating fans from their current seats in order to allow time to find suitable alternative seats, with all new facilities being in use for the 2020-21 season.
Manchester United said 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 club said:
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 has a duty of care 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. 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 situation, and have been assured of the club’s continued commitment to equality and the fulfilment of Mancheter United’s Stadium Accessibility Plans for the start of the 2020-21 season.
Image courtesy of Manchester United FC