Around two-fifths of disabled fans say absence of live sport has 'significantly' impacted their mental health

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25th June 2020 09:38 - Sport, Leisure and Tourism

Around two-fifths of disabled fans say absence of live sport has 'significantly' impacted their mental health: A survey carried out by the charity, Level Playing Field, has found that 43% of disabled fans report the suspension of live sport has had a 'significant' impact on their mental health, with 62% saying that if they were  unable to return to games next season, they expect to see a 'huge impact' on their personal wellbeing.

The survey was the first of its kinds for the live sport disability equality and inclusion charity, and polled 570 match-going fans with disabilities asking about how COVID-19 has impacted their personal and psychological wellbeing. The research also sought to understand how fans are feeling about returning to live sport when current restrictions are lifted. 

The survey found that 81% of fans are planning to renew their season tickets for next year, or already have done. This is despite 79% being in the 'high risk' COVID-19 category outlined by the Government.

When asked about how clubs can respond to the crisis if 'vulnerable' supporters are unable to get to live games next season, 86% said they would like to see clubs to set up live streaming services, while half said they think a suitable alternative matchday viewing space should be provided by the club. 

Returning to live sport

When supporters were asked about the measures they would like to see put in place before they would feel comfortable attending live sport, three quarters (75%) cited hand sanitising stations, followed by hand washing facilities (65%) and regular testing of staff (52%). However, almost half said they would not feel comfortable enough to return to live sport until a vaccine was found (49%). 

Other measures selected included strict social distancing measures (48%), the frequent sanitisation of accessible equipment (40%), contactless ticketing (40%), stadium-wide mask wearing (36%) and in-seat refreshment services (25%). 

Tony Taylor, chair of Level Playing Field, said: "Our survey results from nearly 600 fans have endorsed what Level Playing Field already knew - how important attending live sport is for so many disabled people. But even we were shocked by the extent of the fear and anxiety expressed by some of the responders."

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