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Enables report June 2017


Fully Prepared for the 2017 / 2018 Season


Watford Football Club meets agreed commitments to

their Disabled Supporters





Accessible Stadia Guidelines

Vicarage Road Stadium Provision

Additional Assistance for Disabled Fans

Promotional Activity and Events

Future Activities






After many years of inactivity the Premier League Clubs have now committed to a major change of attitude toward their disabled supporters and have agreed to enact the Accessible Stadia Guidelines by August 2017.


I am delighted to say that, in close cooperation with the Enables Group - the independent voice of WFC disabled supporters - Watford Football Club have been in the forefront of these initiatives and in our view have, under the Equality Act 2010 Section 20, anticipated the needs of current and potential disabled supporters and made all reasonable adjustments that are considered essential.


I have produced this document to illustrate what can be achieved with an enlightened management and an enthusiastic disabled supporter group.


I hope it will also act as a helpful guide for any home and away supporters who have a mobility or disability issue.




David J Butler FCA MBE

Chairman Watford FC Enables Group









Accessible Stadia Guidelines



Requirements Based upon a Vicarage Road Stadium Capacity of 21,000


·        Wheelchair places each with an adjacent assistant = 153 spaces

Up to 20,000 = 150  plus 3 per 1,000 above 20,000


·        Ambulant and Easy Access ** = 153 seats

Up to 20,000 = 150  plus 3 per 1,000 above 20,000


·        75% of each of the above totals to be in an elevated position.


·        All qualifying disabled seating must have unobstructed views


·        Accessible toilets – 1 for 15 wheelchair supporters –


Maximum distance to facility to be no more than 40 meters


**Please note that WFC and Enables have agreed that these two categories are to
                  be treated as one and at the higher ambulant specification.


Vicarage Road Stadium Provision


It is recognised that every person with a mobility issue has a unique requirement therefore an individual personal service is a priority and in co-operation with Enables a dedicated email address has been set up to meet those needs, all correspondence received is then individually followed up by the ticket office staff –




All the ticket staff have been trained to cope with these enquiries plus these dedicated staff are also on hand –


Joanne Simonds  - WFC Disabled Liaison Officer             joanne.simonds@watfordfc.com

Dave Messenger  - WFC Supporter Liaison Officer         dave.messenger@watfordfc.com


Full details of the club's provision for supporters with all types of disability, including visiting supporters, can be found in their access statement, which is available on the link below. Hard copies are also available in the club’s ticket office and copies can be sent through the post, on request.




Wheelchair provision

Overall Provision – 100 spaces 

Every wheelchair space meets the footprint and accessibility requirement with the assistant situated in an adjacent position.

75% are in an elevated position.


There are also 3 wheelchair spaces in the VIP / Hospitality area but these cannot be counted in the Guideline numbers.


WFC has 46 wheelchair season ticket holders and significant spaces for matchday availability and does not have a wheelchair supporter waiting list.


Important note: Watford Football Club will not meet the Guideline requirement of 153 wheelchair spaces by the August 2017 deadline.  


Over this summer the number of spaces has however been increased by over 50% to 100.  Despite there being no indication, even with considerable continuing promotional activity, that these additional spaces will be fully utilised.  The demand is not there!


To create another 53 wheelchair places to meet the guidelines would mean removing between 700 and 800 seats from a regularly sold out stadium and potentially creating an antagonistic attitude towards our members by those able bodied fans being unnecessarily displaced.  Enables believes this is an “unreasonable adjustment” and could endanger our members.


At the Enables Group AGM the meeting unanimously supported this position.


The ongoing demand for wheelchair places will be monitored and recorded at every home match throughout the 2017-18 season.


Rookery – Elevated wheelchair platform

Sir Elton John Stand – Elevated platform


Upper Graham Taylor elevated platform.



Wheelchair view from the platform in the Sir Elton John Stand



Ambulant and Easy Access Provision


Guideline Ambulant and Easy Access seating = 153

Actual Ambulant and Easy Access seating =   167 (109%)

77% of the first 153 are elevated


Rookery –A full row of new elevated ambulant seating.



There are also 20 Ambulant and Easy Access seats in the VIP / Hospitality area but these cannot be counted in the Guideline numbers.


Sir Elton John Stand – New elevated Ambulant seating



Given the UK’s aging population it is considered that demand for such seating will exceed the guideline requirements in the future.  WFC agree with this assertion.


WFC and Enables have also agreed that these two categories are to be treated as one and at the higher ambulant specification meaning that additional legroom has been provided and where ever possible these seats have been positioned with the least number of steps for access. 


The essence of the additional legroom is that other fans can pass by the ambulant supporters without the need for them to stand up or step aside.


All ambulant seating has unobstructed pitch views and where a number of steps could not be avoided, “P” rails have been installed.





Accessible toilets

Guideline requirement :- 1 for 15 wheelchair supporters – Maximum distance to facility to be no more than 40 meters.  For the Vicarage Road Stadium that equates to a requirement of 11 accessible toilets.


WFC have provided 15 accessible toilets all within 40 metres of the spaces plus an accessible changing facility with its own toilet.


The Hornets shop also has an accessible toilet.


Sensory Room

With a proud family tradition, WFC opened their new Sensory Room in October 2016 which has enabled children on the autism spectrum to enjoy matchdays in a calm environment. 

It is proving to have a significant impact on children who struggle to cope with big crowds and noise levels at stadiums.

The room features a comfortably furnished viewing area, with an excellent view of the action and a calming area featuring a bubble tube, fibre-optic carpet, soft seating, wall projectors and a glitter-ball with colour wheel.

The room also incorporates a Bluetooth speaker system so that visitors can choose their own music if the game becomes too noisy or distressing for their child.

To assist visitors the room is managed by fully-trained staff with a background in working with children on the autism spectrum.

The Sensory Room, the largest of its kind and only the third permanent facility in the country has proved enormously popular being fully booked through to the end of the 2016/17 season.



Changing Places Facility

WFC announced the opening of their Changing Places facility in the South West Corner of the Vicarage Road Stadium on May 19th.


The latest addition to the club’s pan-disability portfolio of services and seating areas, the Changing Places facility is designed to provide the space and equipment, enabling those who need them to enjoy matches at the stadium safely and comfortably.

As well as a toilet, the facility at Vicarage Road includes a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench, mobile hoist, shower, a screen to allow some privacy as well as a wide tear off paper roll to cover the bench.


The Changing Places facility is ideally positioned in close proximity to both wheelchair and ambulant/easy access spaces in the South West Corner, between the Rookery and Lower Graham Taylor Stands. Those seated in other areas of the stadium will also be able to access the facility by speaking to our matchday disabled liaison officers. 


Should supporters wish to be in close proximity, the ticket office staff will be happy to discuss all individual requirements and help with booking tickets in the nearest spaces.


Hearing Loops

One loop in the Ticket Office at the drop counter

One in the large kiosk in the Rookery Stand

In addition the Hornets Shop has two internal induction loops.


Visually Impaired facilities

The club has 21 Soccer Sight headsets, which allow visually impaired supporters to sit in any part of the ground and listen to the commentary provided by volunteers from the Watford Hospital Radio team.


Assistance dogs are welcome at Vicarage Road.

Should a supporter wish to bring their assistance dog along, they can call our ticket office hotline on 01923 223023 or email disabled.supporters@watfordfc.com  so that WFC can make the necessary arrangements.


   Barney - our favourite supporter!





Visiting Supporter provision


Please note

Watford Football Club fulfil all of the Guideline requirements for Away fans


Away Capacity  =   2,100 seats


Guideline Wheelchair spaces = 15

Actual Wheelchair spaces = 15

75% elevated


Guideline Ambulant and Easy Access seating = 15

Actual Ambulant and Easy Access seating = 15

75% elevated


Accessible toilets = 2

Distance = 3 metres for the elevated supporters  - a new accessible toilet is under construction near to the pitch side positions




Additional Assistance for Disabled Fans



Our Team of Vicarage Roadies

The Vicarage Roadies are there to meet and greet all supporters coming to Watford Football Club on match days. The group consists of supporters of all ages and most of the Roadies have been Hornets for years. The one thing they all have in common is their desire to go that extra mile and give all supporters the best possible matchday experience.

Our Roadies provide a dedicated service to our disabled visitors, which ranges from escort to your seats, to help with refreshments and everything in between. As Hornets supporters, they know a lot about the Club, the town and the stadium. In the unlikely event they can’t help you they will find someone who can.



As it says on their Roadie jackets, they are ‘HERE TO HELP’.


How and where can they be found?  


On the approaches to and around Vicarage Road Stadium from at least 2 hours before kickoff, and they have an information point at the North-East corner of the stadium.


You’ll easily spot them dressed in their bright green ‘Roadie Jackets’ and always with cheerful smiling faces.



Disabled Car Parking

100% of the limited parking available to supporters at Vicarage Road is reserved for disabled supporters.


With the 14 newly constructed additional disabled spaces behind the Rookery end of the stadium it brings the total to 25 for wheelchair supporters.



22 places are also reserved at nearby Chater School directly organised and managed by the Enables group


An additional 14 reserved car parking spaces for ambulant supporters are available in the Lower Hospital car park with a buggy service on hand.



Accessible Shop

The club shop is fully accessible. There is step and ramp free access via an automatic door and non-slip surfaces are around the shop itself. A dropped counter and two induction loops are available inside. The queueing system is fully managed on matchdays and the staff are available to provide any additional support required.


An accessible toilet is available inside the store for disabled customers.


Enables Websitewww.wfcenables.co.uk


The website is updated regularly and has the following sections :-



NB:  Enables holds regular open meetings and, in the interest of total transparency, all proceedings are recorded and published in the “Meetings Database” section.


A link to the WFC Accessibility Document is provided.



Categorised Enables Group Membership database


So that communications can be focused specifically upon supporters with differing disabilities the members database is categorised as follows :-


Ambulant / ASD, Bi-polar & ADHD / Assistants / Chater School Disabled Parking / Hearing Difficulties / Learning Difficulties / Members (whole database for blanket communications) / Sensory Group / Visual Impairment / WFC Officials / Wheelchair Users – Season tickets holders / Wheelchair Users - Matchday


An agreement has been reached, taking into account Data Protection legislation, whereby the Enables membership data can be shared with the ticket office to enable the most suitable seating arrangements to be matched to the supporters needs.



Promotional Activity and Events


Every Watford FC Matchday Programme features a column by the WFC Supporter Liaison Officer and /or the WFC Disabled Liaison Officer.


“Adverts” promoting the Enables Group, free membership plus the advantages of joining are aired on stadium screens at every home match.


Disability Access Day

As part of the on-going commitment to promote accessibility at Vicarage Road, WFC and Enables supported the award-winning “Disabled Access Day”.


Disabled Access Day is a celebration of good access and aims to encourage people to explore new places and gain new experiences by highlighting locations with good accessibility.

With new wheelchair and easy access spaces being opened we wanted to reach out to new supporters who may not have attended before or heard of our new facilities.

Advertising was taken out in the local newspaper and via social media. Euans Guide also carried the promotion.


DAD took place at the match against Southampton on March 4th and a double page spread in the matchday programme was dedicated to DAD. 

At half time both George Fielding from DAD and David Butler from Enables were interviewed on the big screens.


DAD t-shirts were worn by both teams in their warm up and club staff wore DAD pin badges. 


Five new attendees came to the match and a good number of enquiries were followed up.


Enables Flyer handout

Hundreds of these have been printed and widely distributed and a reprint has been ordered for the coming season.



Enables promotional stand at WFC Supporters Community Day



Future Activities



Steward and matchday staff briefings regarding all accessibility provision to be provided during Pre-season.




Tactile stadium plans and signage currently being developed in conjunction with RNIB.




Additional hearing loops to be installed in all retail areas.




‘Dementia Friends’ matchday planned to raise awareness.