So this weekend Saw Manchester United Vs Southampton, and although the action on the Pitch wasnt what I would of wanted to see, something made this game to me, one of my all time Old Trafford Favorite moments.
How can that be? Well for the first time EVER, my family, Jordan, Ethan, Zac, my Wife Cerys, and Myself all got to sit together and watch a game of football.
This whole campaign started when I was advised by a club representative that “there are some clubs that would welcome you with open arms and possibly ask you to bring as many family members as possible, the downside is it wouldn’t be at Old Trafford, most probably Rochdale, Oldham or Stockport”.
Since that day we have been to Stockport County and watched a game, met with Senior Club Members, attended the CAFE conference in Paris and questioned the Premier League, appeared in countless TV, Newspapers and Radio Shows, been the Talk of the House of Lords, and the Subject of a school assembly. And finally it has happened, we got to see a game together. Just like other familys do, week in and week out.
Richard Arnold Manchester Uniteds Managing director told me when we met, Judge me on what I do, and so far he has showed that he is taking the subject of Disability Access and inclusion at Old Trafford Seriously.
The introduction of Family Seating isnt the only change we experianced in the weekend, we also used the Changing Places Facility, which United recently Completed, and are now only the 3rd Club in the Premier League to have one.
We also met a Access Steward who have been trained to help improve the experience and deal with any issues disabled fans may encounter. She was a great help in navigating through the crowds and getting us to our seats. She also appeared at Half time to check everything was ok, and once again helped us out of the ground at the end of the match.
Richard has also stated that the Club are also on target to meet the Accessible Stadia Guidelines required number of Designated Disabled Seats by the 2018 season, which means the Disabled Capacity will More than Double in the next year. A bold Statement i think.
All Premier League Clubs comitted to meeting Accessible Stadia Guidelines by 2018, yet few have made any changes yet. I worry that many think its simply a numbers game. In fact the Accessible Stadia Guide sets out everything from Purchasing a ticket through to Leaving the ground, and where the car is parked. Its so much more than just a figure on how many seats there should be for Disabled and Wheelchair Users, and i feel that these changes show that Manchester United understand that, and are heading in the right way.
As far as this campaign goes. There are still issues that Disabled People face at Manchester United. Disabled Fans cant buy Season tickets, or Match day tickets like others. There is the unfair MUDSA Rota Member System, where a member goes to 1 in 3 matches whilst other MUDSA members who are in the Ballot Sytem only get to go to 1 game a season. So until the day comes that these issues are rectified, we will carry on the campaign.
United Discriminate has become so much more than a story of a family that couldn’t sit together. Its become something of a little Monster. Im really proud of the Support we have gained from Disabled Charities like Scope, and the Famous Followers we have like Tanni Grey-Thompson and Lord Holmes. We have countless followers who are also campaigning for Changes in Disability Access issues, and we will continue to do that, even after our United Journey is complete.
Saturday was such an amazing day for my family. A day that many said would never happen. A day that 2 years ago, at Old Trafford Couldn’t Happen. As that sign says high up in the stretford end, the “impossible dream” was in deed finally “made possible”. Just when i look at that sign, i dont think of all the trophies it refers to. I think about the Changes that have took place, that some people said simply could not happen, because the Stadium was simply too old, or didnt have the Capacity.