What are the most accessible Champions League stadiums?
27th January 2023
The Champions League is Europe’s premier club football tournament, with fans around the world tuning in to support their team and many supporters even travelling across Europe to watch nail-biting games in person.
All football fans want the opportunity to watch their favourite team play on the biggest stage and in big Champions League fixtures, including those with limited mobility. But how easy is it for a stair lift user or someone who relies on a guide dog to go and watch their team play in Europe? This study compares each club’s stadium in the 22/23 competition, analysing their disabled facilities to determine the most accessible Champions League stadiums.
- Manchester City has the most accessible Champions League stadium.
- The four most accessible stadiums belong to English clubs.
- No club has more than 0.5% of wheelchair seats per the capacity of their stadium.
- Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona are among the least accessible clubs.
- 18 out of 32 stadiums do not offer an assistive hearing system.
- 13 out of 32 stadiums do not allow guide dogs.
- 12 out of 32 clubs don’t indicate the availability of key accessibility features on their website.
Manchester City has the most accessible Champions League stadium
The most accessible Champions League stadium belongs to Manchester City. When it comes to disabled access football stadiums, the Etihad Stadium beat every other ground in the competition, finishing with maximum points in every category apart from one.
What really sets Manchester City apart from the rest is the high number of wheelchair seats available (255) and the fact that they have Sensory Suites and offer an Assistive Hearing System – features that many clubs do not provide.
The only area where the Etihad Stadium didn’t finish top of the rankings was the number of wheelchair seats per capacity (0.46%) - Chelsea (0.55%) and Juventus (0.48%) have a higher percentage of wheelchair seats per capacity of their stadiums.
Champions League vs Premier League
Whilst Manchester City’s stadium is the most accessible in the Champions League, they do not have the most accessible stadium in the Premier League.
Brighton has the most accessible stadium in the Premier League with Manchester City finishing in sixth. This is partly due to the fact that Brighton’s Amex Stadium has a higher percentage of wheelchair seats per capacity (0.69%).
Which country has the most accessible Champions League clubs?
When widening the research to look at which country has the most accessible stadiums in the Champions League, there is a clear winner: England.
The four English clubs in this season’s competition boast the most accessible stadiums in the top tier of European club football, as they made up the top four spots in the rankings. Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium finished top, with Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, Liverpool’s Anfield, and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium making up the other spots.
Spain boasts one of the best leagues in the world and is home to some of the most famous club teams. Still, the stadiums for three different Spanish clubs finished in the bottom six (Sevilla, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid), and the stadium for the other Spanish team (Atletico Madrid) was ranked in the bottom 11.
The most accessible Champions League clubs in each group
Let’s break down the rankings by looking at each group of the 22/23 Champions League.
In Group A of this season’s Champions League, Liverpool and their Anfield stadium have finished first with the most accessible stadium. Liverpool’s stadium is the third most accessible in the Champions League overall. They ticked the box for every disability feature and have a high number of wheelchair seats.
Rangers finished second in the group, with Ibrox Stadium proving to be among the most accessible arenas in the entire competition.
Italy’s Napoli finished bottom in Group A, having one of the least accessible stadiums in the competition.
Club Brugge were the surprise winners of Group B, beating big clubs like Atletico Madrid to the top spot. While Club Brugge doesn’t offer an Assistive Hearing System or Sensory Suites, they tick all the other boxes and provide a relatively good number of wheelchair spaces. Going forward, Club Brugge's new stadium (due for completion in 2025) has plans for 220+ wheelchair seats and 2 sensory suites to be added to their present offerings.
Leverkusen and Porto were just a little behind, offering many of the facilities examined but falling short in a few categories, such as Sensory Suites, guide dog access, and in the case of Porto, an Assistive Hearing System.
Atletico Madrid, who beat the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona to the Spanish title in 2020/21, finished bottom of their group, as their stadium doesn’t have some of the facilities the study looked at, and it has the lowest percentage of wheelchair seats per the capacity of their stadium in the group (0.17%).
German giants Bayern Munich have matched their footballing pedigree by topping Group C, above Italian titans Inter Milan in second. However, due to the fact that Bayern does not allow guide dogs, offer Sensory Suites, and only 0.3% of stadium seats are fit for wheelchair users, they failed to cling to the top English clubs in the overall rankings.
Czech team Viktoria Plzeň finished bottom of the group and the entire Champions League due to the fact they do not provide any accessibility information at all for disabled fans. It’s vital that clubs make an effort to tell disabled fans about how accessible their stadiums are.
However, the biggest surprise of this group is that Barcelona, one of the most successful clubs in the world, has one of the least accessible stadiums in the Champions League. The iconic Nou Camp only offers 48 wheelchair seats out of a massive 99,354 – one of the poorest ratios in the competition (0.04%), and it speaks to the lack of disabled access in football stadiums for even the world’s biggest clubs.
Tottenham Hotspur dominated Group D, being one of four English clubs in the top four most accessible Champions League stadiums. They offer all of the facilities that were compared, have the second most wheelchair seats of any team and have one of the best percentages of wheelchair seats per capacity (0.40%).
Frankfurt and Marseille finished in second and third place, respectively. Both teams are found wanting in a couple of categories, including Frankfurt not permitting guide dogs and Marseille not offering an Assistive Hearing System.
Sporting CP, a regular Portuguese team in the Champions League, finished bottom of their group. Sporting is missing a few disability features, such as an Assistive Hearing System and Audio Descriptive Commentary. They also have very few wheelchair seats, just 50, which is only 0.09% of their stadium seats.
Chelsea not only came out on top in Group E but their Stamford Bridge stadium was ranked the second most accessible overall as they offer all of the facilities the study looked at and had the highest percentage of wheelchair and disabled seats in a football stadium per capacity (0.55%) in the Champions League.
Red Bull Salzburg performed well and finished runners-up in group D as their stadium offered all but two (Assistive Hearing System and Sensory Suites) of the facilities the study looked at, landing it in the top 10 of the overall rankings.
AC Milan is the second most successful team in Champions League history. Still, their San Siro stadium only ranked as the third-most accessible in this group as it has only 100 wheelchair seats, which is 0.12% of the stadium’s capacity.
Stadion Maksimir, the stadium of Croatian team Dinamo Zagreb, finished bottom of the group as it only offers 30 wheelchair seats for supporters, which is one of the lowest out of any team competing in this season’s Champions League.
Celtic came out on top of Group F as their stadium offers all but two of the accessibility features the study looked at. The ground doesn’t have an Assistive Hearing System and doesn’t allow assistance animals into the ground. Despite this, Celtic Park was ranked as one of the most accessible stadiums in this year’s competition.
Due to the war in Ukraine, Shakhtar Donetsk had to play their games in Poland at Stadion Wojska Polskiego. This ground is very accessible to fans who are wheelchair users or suffer from a disability as the only facility it doesn’t offer is Sensory Suites, although it also doesn’t allow assistance animals inside.
RB Leipzig came third in Group F as its Red Bull Arena offers most facilities, although it doesn’t offer Sensory Suites or welcome assistance animals and only has 79 wheelchair seats.
The big surprise was Real Madrid, the most successful club team in Europe, winning a record 14 Champions League titles, finished bottom of Group F. Their Santiago Bernabéu Stadium doesn’t offer Audio Descriptive Commentary, Assistive Hearing Systems or Sensory Suites to fans, and it only has 45 seats for wheelchair users, which is 0.05% of their stadium seats.
Manchester City not only topped Group G, but they topped the overall rankings. Their Etihad stadium offers all the facilities the study looked at, and it has the most wheelchair seats (255) out of all stadiums in the Champions League.
Borussia Dortmund came second in the group, and whilst its stadium offers most of the facilities, it was let down by the number of wheelchair seats it has (72) and one of the lowest percentages of wheelchair seats per capacity (0.08%).
Despite there being no information about the number of wheelchair seats at their stadium available online, Copenhagen came third in the group as their stadium offers most of the facilities, except for Sensory Suites and an Assistive Hearing System.
Sevilla came bottom of the group as their Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium has one of the lowest numbers of wheelchair seats and wheelchair seats per capacity and does not offer facilities such as accessible parking or Sensory Suites.
PSG came out on top of Group H as their Le Parc des Princes stadium offers virtually all of the accessibility facilities, apart from Sensory Suites, and they don’t allow assistance animals in. With more than 100 wheelchair seats making up 0.21% of their capacity, the stadium is one of the most accessible in Europe.
Juventus’s stadium has the second-highest wheelchair seats per capacity (0.48%) and one of the highest numbers of wheelchair seats (200) in the Champions League. The Allianz Stadium doesn’t have an Assistive Hearing System, Sensory Suites, offer Audio Descriptive Commentary or welcome assistance animals, preventing it from being among the stadiums at the very top.
Benfica finished third in the group as their Estádio da Luz doesn’t offer Assistive Hearing Systems and Sensory Suites facilities.
Maccabi Haifa finished bottom of the group and second-bottom overall. Their stadium does not offer many disability facilities, including Sensory Suites, Audio Descriptive Commentary and an Assistive Hearing System. They also do not provide information about the number of wheelchair seats at their stadium.
How easy is it to find accessibility information for football stadiums?
If you are a football supporter that uses a wheelchair or you have a disability, one of the most stressful and challenging tasks you may come across is finding out what facilities are available at stadiums.
Whilst there are many clubs which have a page on their website dedicated to sharing information about how accessible their stadium is, there are many clubs that don’t have all the information a supporter with a disability would need. This is something that the research revealed as 12 clubs competing in this season’s Champions League did not have all of the information the study looked at available on their website.
One club (Viktoria Plzen) had no accessibility information on their website, and another (Maccabi Haifa) only had half of the information available. The good thing is that most clubs have a disability officer or team who supporters can contact to find out more information. However, of the 32 clubs competing in this season’s Champions League contacted, only 14 responded to confirm the information listed here about the accessibility facilities their stadium offers.
To create the rankings of each stadium’s accessibility, points were awarded to the clubs depending on where they ranked within various accessibility metrics. An overall score was then created to determine the most accessible team. The disability facilities the study looked at were:
- Accessible entrances
- Accessible toilets
- Wheelchair-accessible viewing areas
- Assistive hearing systems
- Audio descriptive commentary
- Assistance animals welcome
- Sensory suites
- Accessible parking
- Carer/companion tickets
- Number of wheelchair spaces in stadiums
- Percentage of wheelchair seats per capacity
Points were given for each ranking factor above, and this allowed the teams to be scored from 1st to 32nd.
We contacted every team in this year’s Champions League for their accessibility information (14/32 responded). For the other clubs, we gathered the disability information from their websites and other online sources such as Café Football.
You can see the complete rankings of each stadium below and access the full working data here.
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.