People seek leisure for a variety of reasons. From friendship and companionship to competition and social release leisure offers a wide range of purposes and feelings. However, access to the leisure market is dependent on social, cultural, practical, financial, and personal barriers. Leisure is a key area in paving the way towards full community inclusion and participation. Despite this there are a number of significant factors restricting people’s participation in leisure. Access to leisure is controlled by a number of factors. These factors include social stratification, gender inequality, racial discrimination, disability issues, sexuality and age-ism to name but a few. There have been a number of legislations introduced to make leisure available to all despite the ability, income and class of those seeking it.
It is pivotal that the laws relating to equality are followed when considering access to leisure. The laws relating to equality are the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, The Race Relations Act 1976, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Each act is united in its search for equality, not just in the access to leisure, but for general everyday life.
Access to leisure takes on additional significance for disabled people. Disabled people have as much a need for leisure as anyone, possibly more, but the availability and access to leisure isn’t always as good as it should be. Current legislation helps disabled people seek minimum standards in their quest for leisure and equality.
The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 brings in new laws and measures aimed at ending the discrimination which many disabled people face. The Act gives disabled people new rights in the areas of employment, getting goods and services, and buying or renting land or property. In terms of the leisure industry the Act will affect anyone who provides goods, facilities or services to members of the public whether paid for or free. This could range from buying milk in a supermarket, using the facilities in a public house, or borrowing a book from the library. It seeks to provide the same standard of service to everyone, able bodied or not.
An important section of this Act is 4.1 – transport measures. This states that the Government will be able to set minimum standards for new public transport vehicles (taxis, buses, coaches, trains and trams) so that disabled people, including people who use a wheelchair can use them. It is all well and good having superb access and facilities at these places, but if disabled people cannot get there then they are use is limited. Transport is a major concern for disabled people. Taxis are expensive and own transport is often problematic so good disabled access to public transport is vital.
The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) were established by an Act of Parliament as an independent body to advise Government on the transport and the built environment needs of all disabled people across the UK. In 2000 the Government’s department for transport outlined a ’10 Year Plan’ to make accessibility for disabled people a condition of public funding. Based on information gathered from research and from their specialist advisors, the Department aims to improve transport provision for disabled people – whether as pedestrians, public and special transport users, or motorists – while also improving accessibility in public places. This legislation will be enforced nationwide by 2010 and will have major changes in the way disabled people can use public transport.
Racial discrimination also plays a major part in the access of leisure. Under the Race Relations Act 1976 there is a positive duty on public authorities to promote racial equality in the provision of goods, facilities, and services and to improve equal opportunities in employment.
The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2002 amended the 1976 act, fulfilling recommendation 11 of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report and went further by prohibiting race discrimination in all public functions. The amended act outlawed discrimination (direct and indirect) and victimisation in all public authority functions not covered by the 1976 act. It also placed a general duty on specified public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups in carrying out their functions.
Gender is an issue which can be problem when accessing leisure. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 makes certain kinds of discrimination unlawful in employment, education and in the provision of goods and services. The act was amended in 2003 so that, with a few exceptions, it is unlawful to discriminate directly or indirectly on grounds of sex in the provision of goods, facilities or services to the public, or a section of the public or in the disposal or management of premises. This act, like the Race Relation act, makes it possible for everyone to access leisure regardless of his or her gender or race.
Of course ability, race and gender aren’t the only restrictions; social class and income also play a major part in ones access to leisure. Working Time directive was introduced in 1998 by the European Union to combat long working hours. The directive applies to workers over the minimum school leaving age and limits weekly work to an average of 48 hours over a period of 17 weeks. It entitles workers to an uninterrupted rest period of at least 24 hours in each seven day period. In conjunction with this the Working Time directive offered key provisions regarding nightwork, pay, time off and paid annual leave.
The National Minimum Wage was introduced at the same time under Working Time directive and applies to all workers who are working under a contract in the UK. Changes to the wage were set by the government for under 18’s, 18-21, and over 22’s. In 1999 they set up a national helpline and have responded to more than 250 000 enquiries and 7500 complaints. The National Minimum wage gives every worker the same opportunity to access leisure. The money people earn, along with the time off they are entitled to determines how they access leisure, and with everyone earning a basic wage and given a basic holiday then everybody is given the opportunity to access it. The Working Time directive provides us with a specific time available for leisure and helps dictate where and how we spend it.
Such legislations offer a standardised level of access to leisure regardless of class, income, ability, or any other social barrier. The main legislations relate to sex, race and disability and legislation will be introduced over the next few years to cover discrimination on the grounds of age, religion and sexual orientation. Legislations which eradicate any form of discrimination help make leisure accessible for everybody, promoting equal opportunities wherever possible.
Access to football matches is often problematic whatever sex, race or ability you are. Large numbers of people cramming into one place can often make access difficult, this is especially the case for disabled fans. The National Association of Disabled Supporters (NADS) has received the official backing of all the major footballing authorities, and was formed to further the aims of disabled people attending football matches. The association addresses issues relating to stadium access, pitch view, parking, disabled toilets and catering facilities, and any other matters relating to facilities for disabled people. The aim and objective of the association is to raise the standard of facilities offered to disabled people at every ground in the country.
Under the 1990 Taylor Report it is recommended that facilities for disabled football supporters should be an integral part of stadium development, not an optional extra. An important point was reached when in June 1998- The Football Task Force- published a report on improving access to facilities for disabled supporters. Their findings highlighted many of the problems faced by disabled fans, and stressed the need for swift improvements. They recommended that there should be full consideration for disabled fans on plans for new stadium developments and that there should be annual visits to all league clubs in Britain to conduct audits of facilities and monitor progress on improvements. It will include recommendations about viewing standards for spectators in wheelchairs and facilities to accommodate a diverse range of sensory and ambulant disabilities.
Tony Banks, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has taken steps to implement the practical recommendations made in the Football Task Force’s Report on Improving Facilities for Disabled Supporters, published last July, which fall to Government. These relate to amending the approved document to require all new stadia, new stands and extensions to existing facilities to provide wheelchair spaces in accordance with the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds. He also drew up a sliding scale for the numbers of designated seats for people who are ambulant disabled or visually/hearing impaired within new stands and stadia.
These legislations mean that all top flight clubs need to have up to scratch facilities to accommodate disabled football fans and that any league and non-league clubs redeveloping their grounds must consider installing these facilities. With consideration to the Football Association’s recommendations and the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act football clubs in Britain are all required to improve facilities for disabled football fans.
Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield ground has followed these legislations and now boasts one of the finest grounds in the country in terms of access and facilities for supporters with disabilities. There are 50 spaces for wheelchairs and helpers in the Kop Grandstand, 30 in the Anfield Road stand and a further 20 in the Paddock. These areas all have unobstructed pitch side views, disabled access into the stadium and access to the disabled toilet facilities. The club offers help and assistance for disabled supporters and their personal assistants wherever they are in the ground.
Club Stewards are now being trained on disability issues to ensure that Liverpool FC continue to meet their duties under the Disability Discrimination Act. Tickets for wheelchair users and visually impaired people and their Personal Assistants are available at heavily discounted rates. For visually impaired supporters to obtain match tickets the club requires a copy of their BD8 certificate. There is a block of 50 seats in the Kop end of the Paddock fitted with room for up to two assistants and headsets with full match commentary.
When Liverpool built their Centenary stand in 1992 they where erected without any consideration for wheelchair users. There was no access and there were no spaces specifically for disabled supporters. They came under great criticism from the Football Task Force’s 1998 report for the Minister of Sport and were told to use existing stands to make up for the failure to accommodate disabled supporters in the club’s new Centenary stand.
Liverpool Football Club’s image as an international organisation requires them to promote equality in every aspect. Making sure the stadium is fit for disabled spectators is one thing, but attempting to be multi-cultural in a predominately white area is another. The club follows nationwide anti-racism initiatives and supports the aims of leading schemes such as ‘Kick it Out’ to tackle problems of racism in the game.
‘Kick It Out’ was established by the Commission for Racial Equality and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) in 1993. The campaign works throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge racism and work for positive change. Racist abuse at football matches is against the law under The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2002, so the police and stewards can take action whenever it occurs. Kick It Out attempts to eradicate racism at football by asking supporters, players and officials to report any racism they hear in or around the football ground. By identifying and punishing the racists they are making not only football, but society in general, a more open minded, welcoming place.
Show Racism the Red Card is an anti-racist charity, set up in conjunction with ‘Kick It Out’, which was established in January 1996. Its aim was to use professional footballers as anti-racist role models to combat racism through anti-racist education. The campaign has been able to involve hundreds of top footballers and managers, and has harnessed the high profile of these role models to combat racism. Taking guidance from the Race Relations act these initiatives work with football clubs across the country to promote equality in the game and make stadiums a welcoming place to black and ethnic minority groups.
Liverpool Football Club, and football in general, is currently seeing an annual rise in the price of match tickets. This is mainly due to the vast amounts of money being spent on players and stadia. Football is as popular as ever and if one supporter cannot afford to go anymore then there will be at least one new age fan to replace them. Despite this clubs are working hard to keep reduced admission available for certain types of fan.
In keeping with Working Time directive and minimum wage legislation clubs offer concessions for senior citizens, and for junior supporters and discounted tickets are provided for supporters with a restricted ; severely restricted view of the pitch. These legislations are not necessarily in place for football clubs to abide by but by providing cheaper tickets for those outside average employment ages then maybe these legislations are being followed. They also display careful consideration to ensuring ageism is not evident by welcoming old and young fans alike. Making access to Anfield wider for everyone there are two areas of the ground which are reserved for the exclusive use of family groups and junior supporters. If Anfield is going to comply with all current legislation then they must make it accessible for as many types of fan as possible.
It is the policy of Liverpool Football Club that there should be equal opportunity for all. This applies to external recruitment, internal appointment, terms of employment, conditions of service and opportunity for training and promotion regardless of sex, marital status, creed, colour, race, age, disability, sexual orientation or ethnic or national origin and the Club is committed to the development and promotion of such equality of opportunity. The policy also applies equally to the treatment of their customers, clients and suppliers. Following consideration to all the necessary acts and legislations Liverpool’s Anfield ground is now accessible to all types of supporter, regardless of ability, race, age, or any other social barrier.