Manchester United came under fire from disabled fans at their Premier League opener against Brighton after staff were accused of a major oversight that left temporary seating blocking the bays usually use by wheelchair-using supporters.
Manchester United Disabled Supporters’ Association has since established that flexible seating in the disabled facility at the Stretford End had not been cleared following matches that were hosted in the women’s European Championship, leaving wheelchair users without access to their usual places.
One fan, whose son is in a wheelchair, said that the club was “an absolute joke” and that they had to wait until after the match had kicked off before being told what had happened. They were eventually able to watch the match from an alternative area of the ground.
“Zayden’s season ticket wheelchair bay gone as United have messed up with the redesign of the Stretford End,” wrote Twitter user Benjamin Brazil. “Fuming isn’t the word. What a mess but it was the 45 minutes that we had no idea what was going on. My son got really upset thinking he was going to miss out on the game. Why no one triple checked the work... is beyond me.”
Another fan, called Vicky, replied, saying that she was “fuming too” and “fed up of being a second thought” while another, called Ben, added: “Joke. Even worse than the football today! Got there and didn’t know what to do. I’ve been told it will be sorted for Liverpool [on Aug 22].”
Well let’s hope it’s all put right for the next home game mate. They put in the extra seating for the Women’s Euro game & didn’t take all the extra seating out when it came back to putting to the original way. Just a joke how it wasn’t checked & double checked that’s is right
— Benjamin Brazil (@bennymufc) August 7, 2022
The facility for disabled fans at the top of the Stretford End was designed to be flexible so that unused wheelchair spaces could potentially be filled with seats.
Manchester United have apologised to those supporters who were impacted and offered a full refund.
“We understand the significant impact this will have had on the matchday experience for those fans,” said a spokesperson. “We have since spoken directly with those affected and offered a full refund for the match which will be processed in the coming days. We also explained that this unfortunate error was isolated, and a result of the section being configured differently for the recent Women’s Euros game - the process is now underway to ensure the correct configuration and this will be completed well ahead of the next home match against Liverpool FC.”
United had won praise for changes at Old Trafford which mean that the ground does now offer the recommended wheelchair spaces after a Telegraph Sport investigation in 2017 showed that they were not meeting guidelines set by the “Accessible Stadia Guide”.