Even though I was unable to attend Anfield stadium for the Magic Weekend I have asked for updates from fans who did manage to attend.
One of the reasons I started this blog was to show awareness for accessibility issues at rugby stadiums and on this occasion a football stadium.
It was disappointing for me on this occasion as I didn’t receive a response from either Liverpool FC or the RFL when I enquired about accessibility. Anfield even have a specific email address for accessibility.
My mobility is such that I am not comfortable just winging it without knowing I am going to be safe when I get there.
Whether the RFL or SuperleageRL are hosting the event I do not see why Liverpool FC could not respond to my request for information around accessibility it is their stadium after all.
The below statements are made by the fans named and are verbatim as they where told to me, errors and omissions accepted.
All of the people named have agreed to be named in this post and are aware of what the readership maybe.
The ‘baby change’ was actually a treatment bed in the disabled toilet yesterday, wasn’t looking too good by the end of the day. (I did explain this is actually a changing places for adults, I am not sure if there was a different area for baby change
Plenty of space though and a privacy curtain which I thought was good (between the toilet space and bed area
Magic Weekend at Anfield Road Saturday 25th May 2019 Myself and Danny (Carer) arrived in Liverpool mid morning and because we know the area, as season ticket holders at nearby Goodison Park, we were aware of FREE parking places that were available quite close to the stadium.
Parking space found we headed off to the Fan zone. The approach to the stadium was pavement and tarmac and the fan zone was being held in a car park. This car park appeared to be for disabled users only but was obviously closed on this occasion.
On entry to the area we realised that it was very heavily populated, approx 90 mins from kick off, and being in a wheelchair we found it difficult to reach any of the stands and spent most of our time in their dodging people. Why the zone wasn’t erected in nearby Stanley Park I do not know.
Giving up on the zone we set off to find our entrance. Around the stadium we were greeted by stewards who directed us round to our gate, we were approached on numerous occasions which was excellent. The approach to the gate was uphill but not too severe. We went through the customary bag check and as it was drizzling the steward on the Accessible gate opened the door and let us in while he went away and scanned our tickets. Why they haven’t a scanner by that gate I do not know.
After receiving back our tickets we were directed to another steward who pointed out the disabled toilets (Two on a radar key and one with a sliding door. Three in total at our side, one a changing places toilet, one small toilet and one with a door that appeared to be broken.
The two non changing places toilet were small and appeared to have no room to turn in them, which meant you had to leave backwards, quite a task with an inward opening door.
We made our way out into the Kop end at the front, again uphill, and to our seats. On arriving at our seats (Row Dis 30) we were informed by the Accessibility steward that my carer had to sit in his designated seat (Row 2 Seat 91), this despite there being empty seats around us. I appreciate it was early but the ground staff should have been aware of how many wheelchair spaces would be being used.
The view from my seat was quite low down and the opposite end appeared a long way away, but to be fair it was a good view of the Kop end try line.
The view was also slightly obstructed by the photographers who positioned themselves behind the electric advertising boards and the perimeter fencing. We now learnt why we had to sit in our correct seats as people who claimed they were disabled and hadn’t booked a wheelchair space were being moved onto the front section. This included a man that said he couldn’t see because people were standing in front of him in the stand but on numerous occasions throughout the day left his seat to purchase alcohol.
Fortunately I did not need my carer throughout the day except to push me to the toilet but if he had had to come to me in an emergency he would have had to struggle by the people sitting in his row (an alleged unreserved stand) there appeared to not have any control over the disabled section which to me was amazing seeing as they get 12,409 including 52 wheelchair spaces (Carer to sit behind) on the Kop at Liverpool games.
The games progressed with not much entertainment between the fixtures, exception being the game for disabled people during the Hull fixture. The tanoy in the Kop was disgraceful, distorted and muffled at the same time, so we were not aware of player replacements or announcements about any entertainment that was taking place. The TV screen was situated in the top right corner of the Kop so it meant turning and looking over my right shoulder to see it but as most fans sat at the front few rows stood up it was difficult to see it.
Question mark over whether they could have one at both ends of the stadium. At sometime during a long day refreshments are required and Danny was grateful that he was able to use his phone and order our beverages which were brought to us in our seats without us having to move. This is an excellent facility but I am unaware if it was a Rugby League imitative or normal Liverpool FC policy.
Exiting the ground at the end was a slight struggle as the stewards let the fans congregate on the pathway near the front of the stand so it was like a slalom course getting out. Overall I was disappointed with Day 1 of Magic, not only the score but it was most annoying to have to sit on my own during the games and if I required to speak to Dan I had to manoeuvre my chair round to face him.
Sunday 26th May 2019 Despite our knowledge of the stadium we found it difficult to approach from our hotel as roads had been closed for the Liverpool Marathon which was passing the stadium. After a detour though we did find our way to our parking place.
Entry to the ground was similar to the Saturday but this time we were made to wait outside for our tickets to be scanned. On entry we were this time shown to our seats and the steward introduced herself to us. She informed me that my carer should sit with me and this time they seemed to have the seating under control and no one was allowed into the disabled area without a valid disabled ticket.
This enabled Dan and I to sit together which was better for me and I might add him as well. Stewards patrolled the section all afternoon and they also kept the front three rows of seats in the stand empty allowing us to see the screen. This afforded us a better afternoon at the stadium and I must say I enjoyed it immensely more than the Saturday. GOOD POINTS BAD POINTS Easy access (G) Toilets a bit small (B) 1 Good toilet (Changing Places) (G) Overall view of the pitch (B) Food Purchasing (G) Tannoy and Screen (B) Helpful Stewards (outside stadium) (G) Carer not sat with me (Sat only) (B) Good Internet access (G) Photographers obstructing view (B)
As you will note this was different over the two days, which does beg the question how do they manage football and why the improvement on day 2.
Both of my girls went to the game just on the Saturday there was no problem using the disabled access my problem was finding out information on using the disabled access both Anfield and Hull FC was unsure as to whether I could.
Grace is 10 has Aspergers Hannah is 13 has PTSD Diane
Anfield said it wasn’t there event hull fc said contact Anfield but it was ok on the day Both of mine get DLA so no issues with that one although when my husband took my daughter through the disabled access at HFC a fellow fan said this entrance is for disabled they should put the signs up that not every disability is visable although the club handled it in a correct manner.
Invisible illness this is the big question!
Good access lifts pleasant stewards more than helpful, I am just beginning to use a wheelchair as my MND progresses.
It’s was nice day there were lifts and a lot space for disabled people with wheelchairs at the front
Lisa Todd Hunter Chandler
Our LD were treated really well. But a physically disabled parent found the stairs really difficult. They were offered a seat where there were lifts straight away, but it would have meant sitting away from our group. Stewards were very helpful and helped him on a number of occasions so we could stay together.
I was there with my daughter who played in the LDRL experience at Anfield, and it was a good day all around, until the very last game when the players played a game on the field, we was pushed into a very small corner, was squashed in like cattle, then some mindless idiot let a smoke bomb of right next to where the disability players were, down the stairs,😡😡😡😡😡
This was the best stadium we have ever been to. I am a wheelchair user and go to away games and have attended all magic weekends. Yesterday was the first time I felt included with all of our fans instead of having to sit miles away from them. There areno hills to fight up and down like Newcastle which is a nightmare for the person who is pushing. The parking at Anfield was the nearest we have been to the stadium and easy to get away from. The facilities and toilets were the best I have ever seen including fully accessible toilets complete with hoists. All in all this was the best weekend we have had but being in the minority we are usually not taken into consideration and when you have kids with you as well forward planning has to be done all the time
As you will note from the above, this is just a selection of the fans experience but it noticeably varied from day to day.
Myself and another fan had trouble gaining the correct information prior to attending therefore there needs to be a channel through the RFL or SuperleagueRL when they are holding these events.
In this day and age I find it disappointing that as a disabled fan I am still having to jump through hoops to gain information just to enable me to attend a game and it seems I aren’t the only one.
Invisible disabilities are another issue entirely along with to get access to a disabled ticket for any stadium you have to either be on DLA or enhanced mobility PIP.
I for one aren’t on either, the latter is subject to tribunal, so even though I am in a wheelchair or use a mobility scooter to get around if I order a disabled ticket I don’t fit the criteria, a criteria I would have had to have fit to attend Anfield.
Based on the information I have received I will score 7 out of 10 because of my own struggles to attend.
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