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Every premier league team ranked by accessibility

27th September 2021

 

Data last updated: 20/10/2021

  • The number of disabled seats in the stadium has been updated to wheelchair spaces in stadiums to reflect the data gathered from Level Playing Field. This number doesn’t include ambulant disabled spaces or personal assistant seats. We are aware there are other types of disabled seats but for consistency, these have not been included.

Football is the most popular sport in the UK and with the recent success of the England national team in the Euros over the summer and stadiums being able to get back to full capacity once again, fans are returning to matches to roar on their team. The Premier League is the most-watched league in the world, drawing in the highest global television audience of any football league.

But how accessible is it for disabled supporters to watch their team? This research looks at the Premier League teams, their stadiums and how they tailor their offerings towards their disabled supporters and visitors with mobility issues who may need to use aids such as a stair lift or walking aid.

Hundreds of disabled visitors head to watch their favourite teams play every year and whilst all the stadiums are extremely accessible, there are some which are more accessible than others. Comparing the accessibility features of each stadium along with Trip Advisor ratings has produced some interesting findings, keep reading to find out if your favourite team ranks at the top or the bottom of the table.

What are the most accessible Premier League stadiums?

Premier League Stadiums accessibility table

*Whilst Crystal Palace does not offer disabled parking at their stadium, there is such parking available at a nearby Sainsburys: https://www.cpfc.co.uk/supporters/supporters-with-disabilities/

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Smaller stadiums have better accessibility

The findings from the table above shine a real light on the top Premier League teams and what they offer for their supporters who have physical disabilities. Some of the most popular teams with the most expensive stadiums don’t rank as high on the table as some of the smaller teams who have smaller stadiums. Brighton and Hove Albion topped the table above some of the bigger teams including Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

What are the top 10 most accessible Premier League stadiums?

  1. Brighton and Hove Albion
  2. Southampton
  3. Watford
  4. Everton
  5. Manchester City
  6. Liverpool
  7. Newcastle United
  8. Tottenham Hotspur
  9. Arsenal
  10. Leicester City

The big six fail to score in the top 3

As you can see, the top three teams are all outside of the so-called ‘big six’ in the Premier League. The top three spots have been claimed by teams with smaller stadiums, but they still offer the same high-quality facilities as some of their larger counterparts. Brighton and Hove Albion, Southampton and Watford, who only got promoted this season, all ranked ‘yes’ for all of our disability factors and scored 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor. Brighton and Leicester City also had a larger percentage of wheelchair spaces in their stadium than the other teams in the league.

It is surprising to see some of the clubs that have had recent stadium upgrades such as West Ham not featuring in the top ten list.

What are the 10 least accessible Premier League stadiums?

  1. Wolverhampton Wanderers
  2. Chelsea
  3. Crystal Palace
  4. Aston Villa
  5. Brentford
  6. West Ham United
  7. Leeds United
  8. Norwich City
  9. Manchester United
  10. Burnley

Although these teams have been ranked as the least accessible in the Premier League, they are still very accessible for fans with mobility problems. Burnley has been ranked as the least accessible stadium in the league as it does not offer an assistive hearing system, audio descriptive commentary or a sensory suite. One huge surprise from the rankings is one of the most popular teams in the league, Manchester United, ranking right down in 19th place. Manchester United has the biggest stadium on the list with a huge 74,140 seats but only 0.22% of these are wheelchair friendly.

Many of these bottom-ranked teams didn’t rank ‘yes’ for all of the disability factors or only scored 4/5 on Trip Advisor, a full breakdown of the clubs’ data can be found below.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton & Hove Albion and its Amex Stadium, which opened back in 2011, came out as champions of the Premier League Accessibility Table. They ranked ‘yes’ for all of the disability factors (accessible entrances, accessible lifts, accessible toilets, accessible ticket counters, wheelchair accessible viewing areas, assistive hearing systems, audio descriptive commentary, assistive animals welcome, sensory suites, accessible parking, carer tickets) and with 220 wheelchair spaces in the stadium, it has the highest percentage of wheelchair spaces for its capacity. It also has a 4.5/5 ranking on Trip Advisor.

Paul Camillin, the Head of Media and Communications at Brighton & Hove Albion, spoke about how important accessibility is to the club: “We are a community club and feel it is vital everyone feels welcome, regardless of any individual characteristic. We take great pride in making our stadium accessible and welcoming to all.”

Southampton

Southampton FC ranked 2nd out of the 20 teams evaluated, a really great position for one of the smaller clubs within the league. They ranked ‘yes’ for all the disability factors, have one of the larger percentages of wheelchair spaces at 0.59% and ranked 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor. The Advisor and Disability team at Southampton explained why they think making stadiums accessible for all is of utmost importance:

“It is important to create an inclusive environment for all supporters, providing each and every single supporter out there the chance to attend a live football match. At Southampton Football Club we pride ourselves on having a stadium that is fully accessible to all supporters, whilst always looking at ways we can enhance the matchday experience. Not all disabilities are the same, with some coming with more complex challenges than others – however, no matter what that individual’s disability is, we will always do our best to ensure that their supporter experience is as stress-free and as enjoyable as possible. We will always make suitable adjustments and provide assistance wherever possible.”

Watford

Watford FC are one of the three newly promoted teams to the Premier League and whilst some pundits expect them to be battling to avoid relegation this season, their Vicarage Road stadium ranked highly out of the 20 teams sitting at 3rd place behind Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton. Similar to Southampton’s stadium, they marked ‘yes’ for all of the ranking factors, scored highly on the percentage of wheelchair spaces per capacity at 0.55% (out of a total of 22,200 seats) and were awarded 4/5 on Trip Advisor.

Watford has the third-smallest stadium capacity yet still has one of the largest percentages of wheelchair accessible spaces, a really great feature from a really accessible stadium.

Everton

Goodison Park, the home of Everton Football Club, is an iconic venue as it was the first major football stadium built in England and was opened on 24 August 1892. Despite being one of the oldest stadiums in the league it ranks highly for its accessibility and finishes in the top four of the Premier League accessibility table.

The stadium offers all of the disability facilities the study looked at and 0.54% of seats at the 39,414-seater stadium are available to wheelchair users and those with mobility issues, which is one of the highest in the league. The stadium also has a Trip Advisor rating of 4.5/5.

Manchester City

Manchester City is one of the most popular clubs in the Premier League and has been one of the most successful in recent years, but they missed out on the top four and sit in 5th, after being beaten to the top by the likes of Brighton and Watford. The City of Manchester Stadium ranked ‘yes’ on all the ranking factors, but only 0.46% of seats at their stadium are wheelchair accessible spaces and for a club with a 55,017 capacity it was a smaller percentage than the teams ranked above it.

Although the stadium only ranks in 5th, it does offer all the accessibility facilities at its stadium meaning it is easily accessible for all wheelchair users and fans with mobility issues and is, therefore, a great stadium for all to visit.

Liverpool

Liverpool FC is one of the most well-supported clubs in the Premier League and is also one of the most historic and successful teams in the country. In terms of stadium accessibility, Liverpool would be in the Europa League spots as they ranked 6th in the table.

Anfield ranked ‘yes’ for all accessibility factors, scored 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor but only have a 0.448% of wheelchair-friendly spaces out of a total of 53,394. This only sets them just below Manchester City but still paints a very good picture for their disabled supporters.

Newcastle United

Newcastle United are an established Premier League team on the pitch and their stadium, St James’ Park, demonstrates this as it sits in a credible 7th place out of the 20 teams in the accessibility table. Their percentage of wheelchair-friendly spaces being ever so slightly lower than Liverpool’s at 0.447% compared to 0.448%.

Newcastle United’s stadium boasts all the accessibility features in its 52,305-capacity stadium and scores a great 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor, which is no mean feat.

Tottenham Hotspur

Also known as Spurs to their fans, Tottenham Hotspur ranked a slightly surprising 8th in the table, which is quite low considering they have recently had an impressive brand-new stadium built with a huge capacity of 62,303.

Tottenham scored ‘yes’ on all the accessibility factors that were ranked and 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor so although the team only landed in 8th the stadium is still extremely accessible for those wishing to visit on a matchday. Where the stadium slightly fell down was the fact only 0.425% of their seats are wheelchair-friendly spaces.

Arsenal

Finishing just below their North London rivals, Arsenal and their Emirates Stadium came in 9th position. The Emirates is a relatively new stadium as it opened on 22 July 2006, and it has one of the largest capacities in the Premier League at 60,704.

Despite finishing 9th in the table, the stadium is extremely accessible to wheelchair users and those with mobility issues as it scored ‘yes’ for all the accessibility factors and was ranked 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor. The stadium is ranked slightly lower than rival stadiums as it has 258 wheelchair spaces for fans, which is 0.425% of the Emirates Stadium’s capacity, and that is lower than the other clubs ranked higher than them.

Arsenal also has a disabled supporters lounge and the clubs Disability Liaison team speak about it in their access statement: “The Disabled Supporters Lounge is open for home and away disabled supporters (and their PA’s) before every home game at Emirates Stadium, (excluding the Emirates Cup weekend and International Friendlies).

“The Lounge is equipped with a large screen TV and there is also free tea and coffee available (although we do ask disabled supporters to consider making a small donation to The Arsenal Foundation for the refreshments). A wheelchair-accessible toilet facility is also available.”

Leicester City

Landing itself in the top half of the Premier League teams, Leicester City FC finish their campaign in 10th place out of the 20 teams, a little disappointing for a team who have previously been Premier League champions.

The King Power Stadium doesn’t offer a sensory suite for those who may require it on their visit, something that many of their higher-ranking competitors do. Although they don’t pass all the accessibility factors, they have one of the highest percentages of wheelchair accessible spaces per capacity at 0.61% which is admirable for a stadium with a more modest seating size of 32,312. They also rank highly on Trip Advisor at 4.5/5.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolverhampton Wanderers or ‘Wolves’ are known for their bright gold shirts and iconic badge. Some may not consider them as one of the most accessible teams due to their older stadium, but they landed themselves in 11th place, just missing out on a top 10 spot.

Although Wolves passed all the accessibility factors and scored highly on Trip Advisor, they ranked in 11th position as they only had a percentage of 0.36% of wheelchair spaces per capacity, which was in the bottom eight in the league for this particular ranking factor. Speaking to the accessibility and disability team at Wolves, they firstly explained why they think making sure stadiums are accessible is of high importance:

“We want our supporters, no matter what their access needs, to be able to attend a game and have access to our facilities like any other supporter”

They continued, explaining why Wolves pride themselves on what their stadium offers all of its fans: “We offer not only the above to fans but we have audio programmes, a hidden disability wristband scheme, audio documents, individual social stories of visiting Wolves and away grounds and a dedicated disability access officer who links directly to fans, advising them on seating environments on both home and away grounds.”

Chelsea

Chelsea is one of the best-supported clubs in England and over the last couple of decades, they have become one of the most successful teams in the Premier League. Stamford Bridge has been the home of Chelsea Football Club since their formation and has been opened as a sporting arena since 28 April 1877 – used exclusively for the traditionally popular Victorian pursuit of athletics meetings by the London Athletic Club for its first 27 years.

Now it is a venue where football fans descend and although the stadium was only ranked 12th in the accessibility table, it offers all of the accessibility facilities the study looked at and has a 4.5/5 Trip Advisor rating. However, only 0.316% of the seats at Stamford Bridge can be used by wheelchair users, which is lower in comparison to other teams in the league.

Crystal Palace

Selhurst Park has been the home of Crystal Palace since 1924 and it is renowned for boasting one of the best atmospheres in the Premier League. In fact, as quoted on their website about visiting their stadium, football commentator Ian Dennis, from BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “I do not think there is a better atmosphere in the Premier League.”

Selhurst Park scored ‘yes’ in all the accessibility ranking factors apart from offering accessible parking to fans. As explained on the club’s accessibility page, there is no disabled parking at the stadium, but there is parking available at Sainsbury’s which is located next to the ground. Despite no disabled parking being offered at the stadium, the percentage of wheelchair spaces per capacity within the ground was one of the highest in the league at 0.502% and it also received a 4/5 rating on Trip Advisor.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa, also known as the ‘Villans’, play their home matches at Villa Park in the Witton area of Birmingham. The stadium is one of the oldest and most famous in Europe and it has been the club’s home since 1897, having evolved over the years into a magnificent all-seated arena with a capacity of more than 42,000.

Although Villa Park scores ‘yes’ for all the accessibility facilities the study looked at, with only 87 wheelchair spaces (only 0.204% of their full capacity) it doesn’t offer as much seating as many competitors. Villa Park does receive a 4.5 rating on Trip Advisor.

Brentford

Brentford are the Premier League’s new boys as they are making their first-ever appearance in the competition. The team now play at the Brentford Community Stadium, which is a new venue that only opened in 2020 and is located next to Kew Bridge station, less than a mile away from their old Griffin Park stadium.

As you’d expect being so new, the Brentford Community Stadium is extremely accessible for fans in wheelchairs and those with mobility problems. It scores ‘yes’ for all of the accessibility facilities that the study looked at and it scores 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor. It ranks 15th in the table as only 0.099% of spaces at the stadium are wheelchair friendly.

Chris Wickham, Communications Director at Brentford, said: “At Brentford, we believe sport and football is for all, and so stadiums need to make sure they cater for all supporters whatever their accessibility needs are. This is even more important coming through a global pandemic when many disabled supporters have been isolated from friends and family. Sport plays an important part in reconnecting them, providing a distraction from everyday worries and problems.

“At Brentford FC one of our core values is togetherness, with the new stadium we have a fantastic facility that brings all our supporters together and offers a great experience whatever access needs are required.”

West Ham United

West Ham United finished in a disappointing 16th place out of the 20 teams that were ranked in the accessibility table. The club was let down by their lack of a sensory suite, which many of the other rival clubs have on-site. The club also scored a rating of 4/5 on Trip Advisor - lower than rival clubs.

One factor that the club performed reasonably well in was its percentage of wheelchair spaces per capacity where they score a respectable 0.42% out of their 60,000-seated stadium. To improve their position, the club could look to introduce sensory equipment or a sensory room for those visitors who may wish to use it.

Leeds United

Since the clubs’ foundation in 1919, Leeds United have only ever played their games at Elland Road but the stadium was actually built in 1897 and was previously the home of Holbeck Rugby Club.

Now it is one of the most famous stadiums in England and after getting promoted back in 2020, this will be the first season where the stadium will be at full capacity since being in the Premier League again.

Leeds United were ranked 17th in the accessibility table as the ground does not have a sensory suite and the percentage of wheelchair spaces per capacity within the ground was in the bottom 10 at 0.376%.

Elland Road is still an extremely accessible stadium for fans in a wheelchair or with limited mobility as it offers all the other facilities such as accessible parking and accessible entrances. The stadium also received a 4/5 rating on Trip Advisor.

Norwich City

Norwich City are another team that has recently been promoted back into the Premier League, playing at their home ground, Carrow Road, since 1935. In the accessibility table, they only managed 18th place, putting them in the bottom three.

The ‘Canaries’ ranking was weakened by the lack of a sensory suite. They also scored poorly on the percentage of wheelchair spaces compared to capacity with just 0.31% being allocated to fans who may need them. The team also only score 4/5 on Trip Advisor, 0.5 lower than most of their counterparts.

Manchester United

Despite being one of the most successful clubs in the country and arguably the most famous, one of the biggest shocks is Manchester United sitting in a pretty poor 19th place out of 20. Old Trafford has the biggest stadium capacity in the league with 74,140 seats available to spectators but only 0.22% of those are adapted to wheelchair users, a percentage that is a lot lower than one would expect for such a prestigious and expensive stadium.

The stadium also doesn’t have a sensory suite, this brought the ranking of the stadium down lower than expected. The stadium did however rank 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor and it does offer all the other accessibility facilities.

Burnley

Burnley moved to Turf Moor in 1883 and have been there ever since, although a lot has changed since then with a lot of redevelopments taking place.

Burnley may have finished in last position in the accessibility table, but it is still an accessible stadium that fans with a disability can feel comfortable visiting. Turf Moor was ranked below other Premier League teams as it does not offer an assistive hearing system, audio descriptive commentary and the stadium doesn’t have a sensory suite. Also, with a percentage of wheelchair spaces per capacity of 0.191%, it was one of the lowest in the league. Turf Moor has a rating of 4/5 on Trip Advisor, and it does score ‘yes’ for all the other accessibility facilities that were looked at during the study.

The focus and the work that Burnley has put on making Turf Moor more accessible in recent years was demonstrated when the club was praised by the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, during a recent visit.

Speaking about the visit and the work the club has done, Doug Metcalfe, Head of Operations and Disability Access Officer at Burnley FC said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to showcase our accessible supporter facilities to the minister.

“The club’s facilities have undoubtedly come a long way in a relatively short space of time, now providing a suitable and appropriate environment for our disabled supporters.

“Delivery of the stadium infrastructure is one aspect and we will also continue to work closely with our disabled supporter groups and community outreach programmes to ensure that the opportunity to attend a match day is extended to all by improving the accessibility - as well as the experience, enjoyment and perceptions of Turf Moor as an all-inclusive venue.”

Conclusion: how accessible are Premier League stadiums?

The study shows that Premier League stadiums are very accessible for fans with a disability. Even the stadiums that are placed in lower positions such as Burnley’s Turf Moor are extremely accessible and offer lots of great facilities that make it easier for fans with a disability to attend a match. Something that was highlighted from the research is the fact that some of the so-called smaller teams in the Premier League such as Brighton, Southampton and Watford perform extremely well when it comes to the accessibility of their stadiums and they outperform the ‘big six’ of Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Another major finding from the research that premier league clubs could improve is increasing the number of wheelchair spaces in their stadiums. The percentage of wheelchair spaces per stadium is low for all teams and this is an area that clubs could look to improve in the future.

Whilst newer stadiums such as Brighton’s AMEX Stadium, Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium, the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium all performed well, older stadiums like Everton’s Goodison Park ranked 4th and Vicarage Road, the home of Watford, ranked in 3rd position, show that it isn’t just the modern stadiums that offer great facilities for fans with a disability.

One big surprise from the data was Manchester United’s Old Trafford ranking down in 19th position – a team we are used to seeing compete to be at the top of tables. The main reason for its lower ranking was down to the fact that the stadium has one of the lowest percentages of wheelchair spaces per capacity and does not have a sensory suite for supporters.

Methodology

To create these datasets, the study looked at a number of disability facilities and whether they were present at each Premier League stadium, and these included:

  • Accessible entrances
  • Accessible lifts
  • Accessible toilets
  • Accessible ticket counters
  • Wheelchair accessible viewing areas
  • Assistive hearing systems
  • Audio descriptive commentary
  • Assistive animals welcome
  • Sensory suites
  • Accessible parking
  • Carer tickets
  • Number of wheelchair spaces in stadiums
  • Percentage of wheelchair spaces per capacity
  • Trip Advisor rating

Each team was given a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ mark under the disability ranking factors, a percentage of wheelchair-accessible spaces for each stadium was worked out by dividing the number of wheelchair spaces with the capacity of the stadium and the study also looked at the Trip Advisor rating for each stadium. Points were given for each ranking factor, and this allowed the teams to be scored from 1st to 20th.

Original data can be found here

Sources: The accessibility pages for Arsenal, Aston Villa, Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Trip Advisor, Level Playing Field, Access Able.

*Please note: Every Premier League team was contacted by email and asked to provide the answers to these accessibility factors, if there was no response, the data was either taken from the team website or a third-party source.

Age UK Mobility are a provider of accessible baths with showers and stair lifts, but if you want to read more fascinating data-led content, helpful guides and articles, take a look at the news section.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.