The equality watchdog has asked every Premier Leag

first_imgThe equality watchdog has asked every Premier League football club to explain how they are complying with their legal duties to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled supporters under the Equality Act.Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), wrote on 21 December to all 20 Premier League clubs, asking them to answer 18 questions about how they were complying with the act.The clubs have until 10 February to reply to the questions, but EHRC has warned that it will take legal action against any clubs that cannot prove they are complying with the law.EHRC released the contents of its letter this week as the Commons culture, media and sport committee published its report into the accessibility of sports grounds.The committee’s report says that it is “completely unacceptable that a number of Premier League clubs – some of the richest sporting organisations in the UK – have failed to carry out even basic adaptations in over 20 years”.It adds: “It is high time that sports clubs, particularly those with available finance such as those in football’s Premier League, changed their mindset.”The Premier League promised in 2015 that every one of its clubs would meet strict access standards by August 2017.It is due to release its own report this month on the progress made by each club, but Disability News Service reported two weeks ago that Watford had already admitted that it would breach the Premier League’s pledge.The committee says in its report that it is “not convinced that the Premier League would impose suitable penalties” on clubs that fail to meet the pledge.And it says that it supports EHRC’s promise to take legal action against any clubs that “continue to flout the law”. The disabled supporters’ charity Level Playing Field welcomed this week’s report and said that it “validates many of the issues LPF has been campaigning for”, including the lack of accessible information, difficulties booking tickets, inaccessible transport, availability of appropriate seating and provision for fans with hearing and sight loss.Tony Taylor, chair of Level Playing Field, said: “This hard hitting report confirms what we as an organisation have been saying for many years – that all too often, disabled sports fans have an inequality of matchday experience.“We know from our own personal experiences that attending a football match or other sporting event really does make a difference for disabled people.  “We will continue to provide expert, user-led advice to clubs to facilitate this, but also to ensure that disabled fans do not have barriers placed before them when buying their tickets and can turn up at a game with the minimum of fuss, taking their place alongside fellow supporters to support their teams.“Surely, in the 21st century, that is not too much to ask?”Damian Collins, the Tory MP who chairs the committee, said: “When we see examples of good practice at some clubs that are already providing disabled supporters with a good experience when they attend matches, it is especially disappointing that some of the rich clubs are not doing more.“Sports fans with disabilities are not asking for a large number of expensive changes – only to have their needs taken into account in the way sports stadia are designed and operated.”He warned that clubs should consider it “a reputational risk – and one which sponsors would have to take seriously – if clubs continue to fail to engage with reasonable adjustments and are also therefore actually in breach of the law”.In October, the Premier League was branded dishonest by the equality watchdog’s disability commissioner, Lord [Chris] Holmes, over its attitude to access and inclusion.He told MPs on the committee that there had not been “anything like an inclusive culture” in the Premier League and among Premier League clubs, which was “a great shame when it is our only national game”.Among the 18 questions EHRC has put to the 20 Premier League clubs, it has asked clubs to provide a dated copy of their most recent accessibility audit, and the dates of all previous such audits since 2003; details of measures taken to assist disabled supporters to travel to, enter and exit their stadium; and the number and location of their spaces for wheelchair-users.EHRC also asked the clubs for evidence that these issues had been discussed at senior levels in the last 18 months. Once it has analysed the information, the watchdog plans to publish a report on its website, alongside the names of any clubs that have failed to respond to its questions.David Isaac, EHRC’s chair (pictured), said: “Disabled fans have been patronised for decades with every excuse in the book: that there is no demand for disabled access tickets, old stadia cannot be adapted, and even new stadia and stands won’t be compliant for years.“These clubs are not only breaking promises to their die-hard fans, they are breaking the law.” He added: “Let’s be clear, teams who are non-compliant will face legal action.”In a statement, the Premier League said: “The clubs are working hard to enhance disabled fan access and facilities in their stadiums.“The scale and scope of the commitment made by clubs in this area is unprecedented for a single sport or sector, and the timescale is ambitious.“Following consultation with specialist architects, extensive improvements are being undertaken and rapid progress is being made.“At some grounds, particularly older ones, there are challenging built environment issues and, given that stadiums are in use throughout the football season, there is a limited period in which significant structural work can be done.“For the clubs which are working through those challenges, cost is not the determining factor.“Instead they are working through issues relating to planning, how to deal with new stadium development plans, how best to manage fan disruption or, in certain cases where they don’t own their facility, having to work with third parties.“At the end of this month we will present to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Work and Pensions, EHRC and the culture, media and sport select committee an interim report which details each club’s progress ahead of a final report due in August.“It of course remains the case that it falls to the EHRC to form its own view as to whether the adjustments being made are reasonable, as required by legislation.”last_img read more

RFL Chairman Brian Barwick has issued a statement

first_imgRFL Chairman Brian Barwick has issued a statement.It reads:I have been disappointed by the public response of a small minority of Super League clubs to the securing of a new broadcast agreement with our long-term partners, Sky Sports.Without question, Sky have provided an outstanding service to the game in producing both live and associated programming that has been the envy of many other sports. And they have done it for two decades.Therefore to retain this long-standing broadcast partnership, and at significantly increased financial terms, is indeed a great win for Rugby League.Also, the terms of the new contract which starts in 2017 are so beneficial that they give Super League clubs, Championships clubs and the community game a fantastic, secure and long-sighted platform from which to build their futures and develop our great sport.As to the Super League clubs meeting last week, I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say, after hearing a comprehensive presentation on all aspects of the new deal, the clubs themselves voted to vote on the proposal.Most of the clubs recognised that the best result for the immediate future of the game was in front of them, as indeed the significant majority that voted in favour of the offer from Sky Sports underlined. The other clubs were able to vote against it as they saw fit, which is appropriate.What I feel isn’t appropriate, though, is the tone and content of the criticism by some of the Super League clubs who have their own reservations about the deal.This broadcast contract is the biggest in Rugby League history and actually offers Super League clubs an uplift of 63 per cent in annual distributions.It is also the latest in a number of upbeat initiatives we have enjoyed in recent months: with such a strong wind in our sails, I will not stand by and allow the sport to be blown off-course.last_img read more

IT is extremely sad to report that Saints former

first_imgIT is extremely sad to report that Saints’ former scrum-half of the 1970s Alan Ashton has passed away at the age of 65 after illness, writes Alex Service.Alan signed for Widnes from the Ditton junior club in 1968 and appeared for the Chemics in the 1972 Floodlit final at Leigh. He made 85 appearances for Widnes, scoring 19 tries.He was snapped up by St. Helens for £1,500 in 1975 and was substitute in the 1977 Premiership final, although the 1977-78 campaign was Alan’s best as a Saint, when he took part in 34 matches as his team reached the semi-finals of the Lancashire Cup, Floodlit trophy.They went on to beat Warrington in the Challenge Cup semi-final and met Leeds in that epic Wembley encounter that the Yorkshiremen won by 12-14. Alan was non-playing substitute that day, with Tony Karalius, who also remained on the bench for the eighty minutes.Alan was not unlike many half-backs of the pre-Super League era, in that he was five and a half feet in height and weighed eleven stones! Yet he was a bubbly character in the dressing room environment, an enthusiastic and tireless worker in the loose and a great team player.“Alan was a good friend of mine”, recalls former Saints’ loose forward Harry Pinner. “He was Best Man at my wedding and was an excellent player. I remember we used to work moves from around the scrum-base that would confuse even the best defenders. He had good hands and at any other club he would have been a first team regular week-in week-out. It’s so sad to hear that he has gone.”Alan made his Saints’ debut against Keighley in the league match at Knowsley Road on March 19 1976 and scored a try in his new team’s 21-2 success for good measure. The team that day was as follows: Pimblett; Jones, Wilson, Noonan, Mathias; Ken Gwilliam, Ashton; Charles, Karalius, James, Hull, Eric Chisnall and Pinner. Subs; Thompson and LiptrotHe went on to play 67 games in the red vee, 39 from the bench, scoring six tries, kicking three goals and a solitary drop-goal. His team-mates included some of the greatest players in the club’s history and whenever selected for the seniors, he never failed to give less than one hundred percent.Alan’s younger brother, Ray was also a half-back, who played for Oldham, Leeds, Workington and Bramley. He was a Great Britain tourist in 1984.Alan moved to Whitehaven early in 1978-79, where he linked up with his former Widnes team-mate Ray Dutton. We send our condolences to Alan’s family at this sad time.last_img read more