As you will see from the following information, the MKDSA were consulted about these proposed changes in early 2016 and agreed them in principle (3), however, when last seasons ticket costs were published, and the effect they would have on these proposed changes were studied, the MKDSA made their concerns known to the club about the way they were proposing to bring them in (6), especially when taking into account the paragraph highlighted in the LPF document below
Process has been used by the club
1. Matter discussed at AWG in November 2015 highlighting risk to club of a positive discrimination case given that our disabled facilities are generally excellent.
2. Recommendation to move to age related pricing for disabled supporters from 2016-17 but with one year grace period for existing disabled season ticket holders.
3. Consultation with Rex in Jan 2016 and we understood that he was in support given the risk of a positive discrimination being brought against the club.
4. Season ticket presenters released in Feb 2016 highlight the changes. Individual letters sent to all disabled season ticket holders advising them of the change from 2017-18.
5. Website updated in Feb 2016 with the information.
6. Rex sent me a note in March 2016 expressing concern over the scale of the rise and that we should now review. I noted this was a risk given the risk of positive discrimination brought against the club.
7. Ability Counts brochure April 2016 highlights again the changes for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
8. New policy for 2017-18 outlined again in season ticket brochures for 2017-18 season.
18 clubs in L1 including AFC, Peterborough, Northampton, Oxford, Bradford City, Bolton and Millwall all currently operate age related pricing for disabled supporters
Extract from LPF ticketing guidance document and seating management for disabled spectators / customers
Updated January 2016
1. Use of Concessions
It is important to recognise the difference between concessionary ticketing and a reasonable adjustment.
There is often genuine confusion as to the meaning of the word “concession” and its interaction with the need for a service provider to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ (see below).
LPF’s view is that a concession is purely a financial ticketing issue and is something that is offered by a service provider, often as a gesture of goodwill towards a specific group (i.e.retired, youth, etc.), low income (unemployed, incapacity benefits, etc.), student and so on.
Alternatively, the concession may be offered by way of compensation for less adequate seating provisions. For example, a small section of seating area within a stand may offer restricted views due to a pillar or roof truss. Spectators should be informed of this viewing deficit before purchasing a ticket and would expect to pay a lower (or concessionary) ticket price. The club or venue would usually offer a concessionary price. However, the customer would have a choice as to whether to sit in this location or to purchase a seat in another part of the stadium or venue.
For disabled spectators, clubs might offer concessionary prices due to;
a) restricted numbers of accessible seats or spaces (e.g. accessible seating numbers
below minimum standards);
b) more limited or no choices of seating areas available to disabled customers or because the service provider has made the decision to charge less for other reasons,
c) lack of accessible services (e.g. the club or venue does not provide audio-descriptive commentary for partially sighted or blind fans);
d) poor quality accessible seating (e.g. limited views (sightlines), PA / companions not sat alongside, no provision for disabled away fans to sit with their own fans).
The Equality Act does not provide advice on the use of concessions other than making comment that the concessions should not lead to discrimination against disabled people (regardless of their disability).
However, it is legally possible to positively discriminate, for
example by offering concessions for disabled people that are not otherwise available.
Where a concession is made, it should be made for all disabled people and not just for a particular group of disabled people. The only exception might be where a particular group of disabled people (e.g. wheelchair users) have more limited access to the facilities and services,such as an obstructed view of the pitch or less choice or availability that is less than minimum standards. Any concessionary price offered in such circumstances should be seen as a short-term solution only and the existing facilities and services should be improved at the earliest opportunity.
It is important to note that service providers, such as sporting clubs and venues,
would not be immune from legal action because they offered free or cheaper tickets.
LPF’s view is that, in an ideal world concessionary pricing related to accessibility would not be required, as everyone will be treated equally. However, this is clearly not the case at the moment with many sporting venues continuing to offer below standard facilities and services to disabled customers and a limited choice of seating provisions.
Where an existing concession price is to be withdrawn or reduced for disabled spectators, then LPF would urge that it be withdrawn by the club / venue over a period of time and in a measured way (e.g. small incremental increases over several seasons) and always in consultation with the local disabled fans and their representative groups. This principle should also apply to increases to any ticket prices and their related concessions.
LPF’s key aim remains that there should be fully inclusive and equal facilities and
services at all stadiums for all fans including disabled fans rather than offering only
cheaper or free tickets by way of compensation.
Recent European-wide research undertaken by the Centre for Access to Football in Europe and the Sports Institute of Cologne has shown that the majority of disabled fans would prefer fully accessible and inclusive match day facilities and services, that meet demand, rather than the offer of cheap or free tickets by way of compensation.
See : http://www.cafefootball.eu/en/news/cafe-proof-disability-research-project-final-reportannounced
It is important to note that concessionary ticket prices or free tickets would not protect a service provider from legal action under the Equality Act