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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 15:49 GMT
Stadium disabled seats reviewed
Disabled fans have complained of bad Stadium views

English football chiefs are to hold a review of disabled facilities at the Millennium Stadium after being forced to give away hundreds of free tickets ahead of the Worthington Cup Final.

The Football League will give away around 300 tickets for the Manchester United v Liverpool clash in Cardiff on 2 March.

The move follows a boycott organised by the 1,000-strong Manchester United Disabled Supporters Association (Mudsa) who claim that wheelchair users have a poor view of the pitch.

Mudsa has called off the boycott after being offered the free tickets, and League officials will hold a review into provision for disabled fans at the Stadium before the next game there under its jurisdiction - the LDV Vans Trophy final in early April.

I wouldn't say that the facilities are adequate or inadequate, but we need to take another look at them
Football League spokesman

A spokesman for the Football League, which runs the Worthington Cup, LDV Vans Trophy and League play-off competitions, said: "There was a meeting at the stadium earlier this week and all parties concluded that disabled facilities needed to be looked at.

"I wouldn't say that the facilities are adequate or inadequate, but we need to take another look at them."

State-of-the-art

The state-of-the-art Millennium Stadium was completed for the Rugby World Cup in 1999.

Its 300 wheelchair seats are situated behind regular seating.

There are permanent 'Do Not Stand Up' signs fixed to the seats immediately in front of the disabled areas and stewards are told to make sure people using them remain seated.

But Mudsa had claimed that during exciting periods of games, fans stand up, obscuring the view of those in wheelchairs.

The League spokesman added: "Spectators tend to stand up more in football matches than in rugby matches.

Diego Forlan
Diego Forlan supported the campaign

"We saw the problem as a crowd management issue and put in extra stickers telling people not to stand up in the disabled areas and employed extra stewards.

"The view of the United supporters was that this was not enough.

"There is a need to look at (the facilities) again to see if they are up to scratch.

"Giving away tickets is a one-off solution and the review will take place prior to the LDV Vans final in April."

A spokesman for the Welsh Rugby Union, which owns the stadium, said football crowds presented different problems from rugby crowds.

He added: "We are glad that the boycott has been lifted and we are always looking to improve things for spectators.

"We are looking forward to further discussions which might lead to a long-term solution to the perceived problem.

"The problems presented by football are not the same as those in rugby."

Victory

Mudsa claimed the League's move was a victory for their campaign.

Their secretary, Phil Downs, said: "While our members would no doubt prefer to pay for their tickets and be assured of a decent view, at least the problem cannot be ignored in the future."

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and striker Diego Forlan, whose sister Alejandra was badly injured in a road accident 11 years ago, both gave public backing to MUDSA's fight.





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