Disabled fan says Pompey need to do more for disabled supporters

Pompey fan Steve Webb'''Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (131882-1)
Pompey fan Steve Webb'''Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131882-1)
Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

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MORE needs to be done to allow disabled Pompey fans to watch their team play at Fratton Park.

Steve Webb, from Lee-on-the-Solent, has a number of degenerative conditions which together have meant he needs to use a wheelchair.

He says there is a waiting list of disabled fans ‘desperate’ to get into Fratton Park, but who are not allowed because of a lack of space for wheelchair users.

Colin Farmery, club spokesman, said the Pompey board was well aware of the need for more space, but a funding application to the People’s Millions lottery fund, submitted by the Pompey in the Community charity, had been rejected.

The money would have been used to create additional space for disabled fans and their companions under the stadium’s south stand.

The only space currently available for wheelchair users is in front of the Fratton End. There, 20 Pompey fans and five away fans - plus their carers - can be accommodated.

He said: ‘Liaising with Pompey in the Community we did put in a bid for a grant to do this work so we could do it sooner rather than later.

‘That bid was rejected.

‘We’re now spending money over the summer to improve the existing disabled facilities, and in the long-term we have plans to increase and improve them.’

He said there could be money available from if and when Tesco develops a supermarket on part of the site, but in the meantime will be looking for other grant funding, or sponsorship from local businesses, to get the project under way more quickly.

Mr Webb, however, remains unhappy.

He said: ‘There is this waiting list and you just cannot buy a season ticket without already being a season ticket holder and renewing.

‘Extra space would surely pay for themselves, because there are fans waiting to be able to get into watch games, who can’t, but if they could they’d be buying tickets, buying food, buying merchandise.

‘It doesn’t make any economic sense to have a group of fans waiting outside when they could all be inside the ground spending their money.

‘There were assurances made by the club and other people that all this would be sorted out, but it hasn’t been.’