Man Utd to relocate 2,600 season ticket holders in order to boost disabled seating
Last Updated: 24/01/17 4:13pm
Manchester United have announced they will relocate 2,600 season ticket holders at Old Trafford to accommodate increased disabled seating.
The process will be phased over a three-year period and see the number of disabled seats inside Old Trafford rise by 300, bringing United's provision up to the required standard.
It will see the new disabled seating curve behind the goal in the East Stand and into the South and North Stands.
The structural work will be completed in time for the start of the 2017-18 season, allowing the new facilities to be used for friendlies and certain cup matches.
The design also incorporates state-of-the-art reversible platforms, with 100 of the 300 new positions to be used for Premier League matches.
United have confirmed around 800 season ticket holders will be relocated ahead of next season, with the further 1,600 supporters moved in the following two years.
"Old Trafford is a home for all United fans and these changes will help many more of our loyal disabled supporters to attend games to watch their heroes," Manchester United's Group Managing Director Richard Arnold told the club's website.
"Manchester United prides itself on its work in this area for more than 25 years, and will continue to ensure that it remains at the forefront of our thinking.
"In recent years, the club has introduced designated areas where wheelchair users can sit alongside friends and family, was one of the first in the country to install a Changing Places facility, while our Ability Suite remains the best accessibility lounge in any UK sports stadium, over a decade after its initial introduction.
"We have worked openly and continuously for over a year with the EHRC, MUDSA, architects and a significant number of stakeholders, including Level Playing Field, supporters' groups and the club's Fans' Forum, to make sure that these improvements take into consideration all affected fans.
"It is also the fastest way to implement the changes and minimises the number of season ticket holders that will have to be moved.
"We know that many of the affected season ticket holders have held their seats for decades and it will be a sacrifice to give them up. But we also know that the vast majority will understand and support this expansion.
"We are committed to finding a new home for every season ticket holder, either in an equivalent area, or if they choose a better seat, our goodwill package will ensure they pay no more in the first season for having to move.
"We recognise how unsettling it can be for fans to move, not least because of the communities that develop within the stadium over many years and so we are giving fans the chance to try and relocate groups of season ticket holders together, in order to find the best possible solution for everybody.
"We have a unique situation at Old Trafford in that we have some 55,000 Season Ticket holders and enjoy sell-out crowds for every game, and the number of seats that become available each summer is very small. This makes moving large numbers of fans to similar seats within the stadium impossible in a short space of time."
Chas Banks, secretary of the Manchester United Disabled Supporters' Association (MUDSA), added: "I'm filled with pride that the club I've supported since first coming to Old Trafford as a little boy in 1957 is leading the way in increasing accessible seating to meet the standards set out in the Accessible Stadia guide. It's a dream come true for me and many other disabled United fans.
"This is a huge task and it can't be completed overnight. However, it will be completed faster than most believed possible. More importantly, this expansion is the beginning of a process, not the end. Manchester United is constantly looking to improve in every area and I'm confident they will apply that same ambition towards their disabled fans.
"Finally, on behalf of all the disabled members, I'd like to send my sincere thanks to all of our fellow fans who have to move to allow this expansion to happen. Without your cooperation, our dream couldn't come true and we thank you for your help and patience."