Premier League Brighton leading way for fan inclusion

At the Amex, Brighton aim to ensure that everyone feels truly included. For National Inclusion Week, Sky Sports News joined Albion fans George and Jack to learn more

Brighton fan George Holloway-Bartle with his brother Jack at the Amex Stadium. 3:03
Brighton are in a class of their own when welcoming supporters with additional needs. Sky Sports News joined Albion fans George and Jack at the Amex for a day to remember...

As part of National Inclusion Week, Sky Sports News followed Brighton & Hove Albion fans George and Jack Holloway-Bartle for their matchday experience at the Amex in Falmer. George is a wheelchair user, and both he and his brother Jack are autistic.

Watching Brighton is a huge part of George's life, and taking part in sport has helped him day-to-day. "I have trouble walking around the stadium. My wheelchair is so useful to me and means a lot. The stadium is fantastic and the staff are brilliant. Just being at the games helps me. The atmosphere is just brilliant."

At the Amex, there are wider corridors and lifts to allow for wheelchair access. Brighton's official charity, Albion in the Community, held a fundraiser for George back in 2015 so he could get a wheelchair of his own.

George added: "They've done brilliantly, they've done really good. Donating that chair to me was great."

Amex Stadium, Brighton and Hove Albion, general view

George's father Matthew Bartle takes him and younger brother Jack to Brighton's home matches.

"It takes quite a bit of time to get the boys ready for a game, because they both have additional needs. With my youngest, Jack, he gets a lot of anxiety and needs a calm environment for a period of time leading up to leave.

"Once we get there, we have a disabled parking space inside the ground. There's also a lift to get us up to the viewing area where George and Jack sit. It's fantastic.

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"The club has got the balance right, between having the right facilities and making people feel included. They're not segregated and feel part of the team. For me as a parent, that's really important."

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17: Brighton fans during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United at American Express Community Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Brighton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Staff at the stadium are specially trained to assist supporters who have visual needs. Millie Crowhurst is Brighton & Hove Albion's disability liaison officer, and wants to make every fan feel included.

"Within the ground, we've got a hidden disability wristband scheme for our supporters that need it. They can show this wristband to any member of security or steward and they will help.

"All staff receive special training for this. We've also got an inclusion room. We're the first in the Premier League to have this. It's for supporters who may struggle to sit in the main stadium to start with."

Find out more about Brighton and Hove Albion's Disability and Accessibility facilities here.

Sky and Sky Sports are supporting National Inclusion Week, a campaign by Inclusive Employers.

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