Football’s Premier League will break a pledge that all of its stadiums would be accessible to disabled football fans by next August, despite its clubs spending more than a billion pounds on player transfers this summer.The Premier League, the governing body for the top 20 club sides in England and Wales, delivered a high-profile pledge last year that every one of its members would meet strict access standards by August 2017.But peers heard last week that seven Premier League clubs were set to break the pledge to meet standards laid out in guidance 12 years ago in The Accessible Stadia Guide (ASG).ASG includes guidelines on car parking, accessible information, the minimum number of wheelchair spaces for spectators, location of viewing areas for disabled supporters, and staff training.And today (Thursday), the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) revealed that the Premier League had acknowledged in meetings that many clubs would miss the August deadline.Lord [Chris] Holmes, EHRC’s disability commissioner and himself a retired Paralympian, said: “All clubs agreed to make the minimum recommended improvements for disabled fans over two years.“We are now at half-time, and for many teams, the performance is simply unacceptable.“Football teams are legally obliged under the Equality Act to ensure disabled fans are not disadvantaged.“Where it is found that little or no progress has been made toward improving accessibility, we will consider using all our strong legal powers to ensure compliance; all options are on the table.“We will be writing to each club to ensure they do not go back on their commitment given last year, and we will be receiving a report every six months from the Premier League on progress being made.”He added: “The English Premier League is the richest league in the world; in a year when club signings are reaching stratospheric levels, Premiership clubs simply cannot continue to leave disabled fans by the sidelines.”Joyce Cook, chair of the disabled supporters’ charity Level Playing Field, said there had been improvements by some clubs.She said: “Just like last season on the pitch, champions Leicester City are leading the way, while many other teams such as Manchester United have shown clear commitment towards reaching the ASG standards of accessibility by next year.”But she told Disability News Service (DNS): “It is quite simply time for Premier League clubs to do the right thing by its disabled fans.“You made us a promise and we are now counting on you to stay true to your words.“All we want is the right to follow the game we love – surely that is not too much to ask of some of the richest clubs in the world.”The Premier League’s promise to act on access – following a series of embarrassing media reports into the discrimination faced by disabled supporters – was welcomed last year as a “huge achievement” by the minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson.The Premier League also promised to deliver a progress report to the government by July this year.But Home Office minister Baroness Williams admitted last week that the government was “disappointed” by the progress report it had now received from the Premier League and would be asking for “a far more detailed report, giving a club-by-club breakdown”.Tomlinson, who has since been sacked, had promised that the government would publish the report.This week, nearly two months after the report was sent to his successor, Penny Mordaunt, the Department for Work and Pensions said it did not yet have a publication date and “can’t yet comment on the contents”.The Labour peer Lord Faulkner, LPF vice-president, has led parliamentary efforts to improve access to sporting events.He said he had been told that the progress report “says very little and contains no detail about the real progress at each club”.He told fellow peers last week: “The excuses being put forward by clubs as to why they will not meet this are, frankly, unacceptable.”He was particularly critical of three Premier League clubs: Liverpool, Watford and Crystal Palace.Last weekend, Liverpool opened its new main stand, which it says is “one of the largest all seater single stands in European football” and features “premium facilities for fans inside the stand”.But Lord Faulkner said the club “seems far more interested in providing general hospitality places than in installing sufficient disabled fans’ seats to comply with football’s own minimum standards”.He said Watford “seems to be removing disabled fans’ seats at a time when we should be seeing an increase”, while Crystal Palace “believes that it needs only to come up with a plan by August 2017”, rather than comply with the access guidelines.He said: “It is more than 20 years since the introduction of [the Disability Discrimination Act]: it is law that they are required to provide that accommodation, and it is disgraceful that they have not done so.”And he said it was “clear that the Premier League appears to have no intention to penalise or sanction clubs that do not meet the pledge”.Cook said today that some of the most “shocking” concerns were around the availability of wheelchair-accessible seating at West Ham United, even though the club has this season moved into the stadium which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, and athletics, at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and was widely-praised at the time for its access.She added: “With the Paralympic Games taking place currently in Rio, how can we talk of the positive legacy of London 2012 for disabled people in the UK when even the Olympic Stadium will no longer be fully accessible? It truly beggars belief.”A Premier League spokesman told DNS that the report it sent to the government “gave a general progress update without naming individual clubs”.He said: “We are not currently able to say what the situation will be in 11 months’ time.“Clubs are aware of the commitments they made and are working hard to improve disabled access in a variety of ways.“Clubs are working hard to improve their disabled access provisions at stadia and will continue to do so in the coming months and years.”When asked whether the Premier League would punish clubs that did not meet the pledge, he said: “We are not able to second guess what the position will be in August 2017.“Each club’s situation will be carefully considered at that time.”A spokesman for Watford said: “Watford Football Club is very confident in its ability to be fully compliant with the Accessible Stadia Guide by August 2017.“The club has worked and continues to work very hard to ensure that its stadium facilities can be enjoyed by all supporters visiting Vicarage Road.“We are fully focused upon delivering our part of the Premier League’s public commitment.”A Crystal Palace spokeswoman said: “Crystal Palace Football Club are fully aware of their obligations to meet the requirements of the Accessible Stadia Guide (ASG) and the deadline of August 2017. “The club has met with architects, is working diligently on all aspects of the ASG and will continue to do so over the coming months. “We have recently appointed a disability liaison officer who is maintaining regular contact with [the club’s disabled supporters’ association] and Level Playing Field and will work closely with them on this matter.”West Ham United and Liverpool had not commented by 11am today (15 September).15 September 2016
Work and pensions ministers have refused to explain why plans for new social security legislation were dropped from last week’s Queen’s speech.Disability News Service reported last week how a Tory election promise to “dismantle” the work capability assessment (WCA) through new legislation appeared to have been abandoned when it failed to appear in the Queen’s speech, which covered legislation that will be introduced over the next two years.The minister for disabled people, Penny Mordaunt, had told a national disability hustings event a few days before the general election that a Conservative government would “legislate to reform the work capability assessment”, which “treats people like they are part of a sausage factory”.And she said that ministers had “managed to get into the manifesto a legislative commitment to dismantle the work capability assessment”.The manifesto did not mention replacing the WCA but it did promise that a Conservative government would “legislate to give unemployed disabled claimants or those with a health condition personalised and tailored employment support”.A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokeswoman denied this week that the failure to include a social security bill in the Queen’s speech meant ministers had abandoned its reforms.She said: “We have comprehensively consulted on reforms to the work capability assessment as part of the Improving Lives: Work, Health and Disability Green Paper, and have committed to introducing more personalised and tailored support to help people stay in work and the unemployed to return to work.”She added: “We remain strongly committed to help people with disabilities and health conditions get into and stay in work and are considering next steps in response to the green paper.”When asked why the commitment to new legislation was missing from the Queen’s speech, she said: “We don’t take decisions on the content of the Queen’s speech.“As I’ve said below, we have committed to introducing more personalised and tailored support to help people stay in work, and the unemployed to return to work.”Asked if she could ask the relevant ministers – or their special advisers – why the bill had not appeared in the Queen’s speech, she said the press office had “nothing further to add”.
DUE to a batching error a number of junior swaps have been issued to adults by mistake for this Sunday’s Challenge Cup Fourth Cup tie at Huddersfield Giants.If you have the wrong ticket you need to exchange it at our Ticket Office.You will not be admitted to the stadium with the wrong ticket and therefore it is paramount you check them now.If you have had them sent out to you, then please check the tickets when you receive them and call the ticket office on 01744 455 052 if they are incorrect.
The hooker, 32, polled around 40 per cent of the votes, pushing team-mate Ben Barba into second place and Wigan’s John Bateman into third, to win the Raymond Fletcher Memorial Trophy.All three players are on the short-list for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award which will be made on Monday while Tony Gigot, Luke Thompson, Tommy Makinson, Bill Tupou and Danny Richardson also gained votes based on performances throughout the domestic season.“Roby beat off plenty of fierce opposition for the coveted RLWBA award, not least from his own team-mates in a superb St Helens team that has set the standard for the rest to try and attain,” said RLWBA chairman Trevor Hunt.“But in a season where Saints have often made it look easy, Roby has been the rock-solid foundation upon which the opposition have been broken and the tougher games won with his seemingly boundless energy.“He’s had a superb season, following up his magnificent World Cup in 2017, with yet another peerless set of performances for St Helens.”Roby, who has guided Saints to the League Leaders’ Shield and to within 80 minutes of the Grand Final in his first season as captain, said: “I’m made up and a bit surprised to be honest. It’s a great honour to receive an award like this. I’ve never won it before.“I just try to turn up each week and do my job. The way we’ve been playing as a team has obviously helped. We’ve been bringing out the best in each other.”Previous Winners1996: Apollo Perelini (St Helens) 1997: Andy Farrell (Wigan) 1998: Iestyn Harris (Leeds) 1999: Iestyn Harris (Leeds) 2000: Tommy Martyn (St Helens) 2001: Paul Sculthorpe (St Helens) 2002: Adrian Lam (Wigan) 2003: Jamie Peacock (Bradford) 2004: Danny McGuire (Leeds) 2005: Jamie Lyon (St Helens) 2006: Paul Wellens (St Helens) 2007: Trent Barrett (Wigan) 2008: James Graham (St Helens) 2009: Brett Hodgson (Huddersfield) 2010: Pat Richards (Wigan) 2011: Sam Tomkins (Wigan) 2012: Sam Tomkins (Wigan) 2013: Danny Brough (Huddersfield) 2014: Jamie Peacock (Leeds) 2015: Adam Cuthbertson (Leeds) 2016: Gareth Ellis/Danny Houghton (Hull) 2017: Luke Gale (Castleford)
Justin Holbrook makes one change to his squad with James Bentley replacing Jack Ashworth, who continues to get game-time with Leigh Centurions.Justin Holbrook will select his 17 from:1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Kevin Naiqama, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Regan Grace, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Danny Richardson, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Luke Thompson, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Joseph Paulo, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 15. Morgan Knowles, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Dom Peyroux, 19. Matty Lees, 22. James Bentley, 23. Lachlan Coote.Chris Chester will choose his 17 from:Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, Danny Brough, Jordan Crowther, Anthony England, David Fifita, Ryan Hampshire, Justin Horo, Craig Huby, Tom Johnstone, Ben Jones-Bishop, George King, Danny Kirmond, Craig Kopczak, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Bill Tupou, Kyle Wood,Justin Holbrook makes one change to his squad with James Bentley replacing Jack Ashworth, who continues to get game-time with Leigh Centurions.Justin Holbrook will select his 17 from:1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Kevin Naiqama, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Regan Grace, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Danny Richardson, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Luke Thompson, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Joseph Paulo, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 15. Morgan Knowles, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Dom Peyroux, 19. Matty Lees, 22. James Bentley, 23. Lachlan Coote.Chris Chester will choose his 17 from:Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, Danny Brough, Jordan Crowther, Anthony England, David Fifita, Ryan Hampshire, Justin Horo, Craig Huby, Tom Johnstone, Ben Jones-Bishop, George King, Danny Kirmond, Craig Kopczak, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Bill Tupou, Kyle Wood