Manchester United has confirmed plans for improvements to Old Trafford’s provision for disabled supporters.
The club said the move comes following very positive and constructive consultation with the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Manchester United Disabled Supporters’ Association.
The club spoke to a number of architects and undertook a thorough examination of dozens of options to increase the capacity for disabled supporters within the stadium, in line with the Accessible Stadia guide and engaged with a large number of stakeholders to ensure the best possible outcome.
The significant structural work will accommodate 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.
All structural work will be completed ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, allowing all the new accessible facilities to be used immediately for friendlies and cup games not included in the automatic cup scheme.
However, owing to the fact that the changes will displace some 2,600 Season Ticket holders, the club has developed a three-year phased programme of relocating fans from their current seats, in order to allow time to find suitable alternative seats, with around 800 fans being relocated for the 2017/18 season.
To enable this phased & flexible approach, the structural design will incorporate state-of-the-art reversible platforms and from next season, 100 of the 300 new positions created will be used for Premier League and some cup games.
The club has devised a goodwill package for supporters who will need to be relocated, in recognition of the inconvenience and disappointment that moving seats causes. This includes covering any difference in cost (if seats cannot be found in an equivalently priced area) and free cup tickets for all ties played at Old Trafford for a year.
Speaking of the changes, Manchester United’s Group Managing Director Richard Arnold commented:
Old Trafford is a home for all United fans and these changes will help many more of our loyal disabled supporters to attend games to watch their heroes. Manchester United prides itself on its work in this area for more than 25 years, and will continue to ensure that it remains at the forefront of our thinking.
In recent years, the club has introduced designated areas where wheelchair users can sit alongside friends and family, was one of the first in the country to install a Changing Places facility, while our Ability Suite remains the best accessibility lounge in any UK sports stadium, over a decade after its initial introduction.