Bristol Rovers confirm stadium U-turn for Barnsley visit after ‘urgent dialogue’

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Bristol Rovers had said that disabled Barnsley away supporters couldn’t be catered for at the Memorial Stadium.

Bristol Rovers have confirmed a U-turn on a controversial decision not to provide disabled and accessible seating for away supporters at the Memorial Stadium next weekend.

Last Wednesday the club had announced that Barnsley fans requiring disabled or accessible seating would not be accommodated on Saturday at the ground following a delay to ongoing building works at the stadium.

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This weekend is the side's first home fixture of the League One season, having played away at Portsmouth in last weekend's 1-1 draw.

Barnsley Football Club had raised frustrations with the decision to sports disability charity Level Playing Field, who engaged in 'urgent dialogue' with Bristol Rovers. The charity shared concerns over the implications of the Gas' decision and the 'troubling precedent' it might have set.

Chief Executive of Level Playing Field, Owain Davies, said: “We are glad that this situation has been resolved and what would have been a severe neglection of disabled fans has been avoided.

“We understand that the initial cause of this issue was building work, which alongside overall expansion, will improve facilities for disabled fans. Whilst we welcome these developments, disabled supporters should have been considered throughout the process.

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“The start of the season should be a time for excitement when we all come back together to enjoy the sport we love. Unfortunately, this season started with some fans being excluded from that and that was completely unacceptable.

Disabled Barnsley fans will be welcomed to the Memorial Stadium (Image: Getty Images)Disabled Barnsley fans will be welcomed to the Memorial Stadium (Image: Getty Images)
Disabled Barnsley fans will be welcomed to the Memorial Stadium (Image: Getty Images)

“We are pleased that Bristol Rovers has acknowledged and rectified its position. The club has now agreed to offer limited wheelchair and accessible seating options for Barnsley supporters. Bristol Rovers has also reached out to Barnsley, providing reassurance that they will accommodate any disabled supporters interested in attending the match.

“I am grateful to the Bristol Rovers staff, in particular their chief executive, Tom Gorringe, for cooperating with us on this matter, acceptance of the failure and swift action to rectify it.

"We encourage Bristol Rovers and all clubs to engage with disabled supporters and their respected Disabled Supporters’ Associations, when making decisions which impact disabled people."

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