The Football Association of Wales JD Welsh Cup took centre stage this bank holiday Monday, at what many class as the home of welsh football, The Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium in Wrexham.
With the winner of the Cup Qualifying for the Europa League its not a competition to be sniffed at and at a time when access and inclusion for Disabled Football fans has been the centre of many news articles, and Premier League Clubs have been forced to make changes to comply with disabled facility standards by the 2018 season.
It was fitting that the Racecourse should hold the 129th Welsh cup, as the ground has been held high by many Disabled Charity's, Sporting celebrities such as Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Government ministers for the work that has been done to improve access and inclusion for disabled fans there.
Some of this work included installing elevated Viewing platforms, for Wheelchair users, that not only keep the fans out of the North Wales unforgiving weather, but gives them a unrestricted view, and keeps them right in the middle of the fantastic atmosphere that builds at the stadium, as well as this the club are working to become a Dementia Friendly Venue.
Unfortunately though for some reason, the Football Association of Wales, who organise this competition, which has been run (except during the two World Wars) every year since its inception in the 1877-78 season, decided to use the Yale Stand, which has no Disabled Access. It does though have a Directors' box and Executive area
Upon hearing the plans to use the Yale stand The Wrexham Disabled Supporters Association were quick to point out to the FAW that this area had no Access available to disabled fans, but it fell on "deaf ears".
With less than a few hours to go until kick off and some fans travelling 130miles from Broughton, the FAW twitter feed posted a message to United Discriminate (Campaigners for better Disabled Football Fan Facility's)
Although now able to watch the game, disabled fans that made the 130 mile trip would now be in a stand, away from the other 1,402 fans and in an area where all facilities such as food and drink were closed.
Chairman of Wrexham Disabled Supporters Association Steve Gilbert said,
" Its Hugely disappointing not to mention embarrassing. Firstly there was no information around the Mold Road Stand Entrance , it didn't even look like the stand was open. Not only that, but once you got into the stand, all the facilities such as food and drink was closed."
Steve went on to say that the Disabled Supporters association and the Club have worked tirelessly to improve access and inclusion at the ground, and are proud of the achievements that have been made. The FAW today have done real damage, as many fans will go away with the view that the racecourse isn't disabled friendly, which is most definitely not the case.
The FAW it seems have a lot of work to do when it comes to spectators of Disabled sporting events, something I hope they take note of and address before the Millennium Stadium hosts the 2017 UEFA Champions League final, scheduled for Saturday 3 June 2017.
In the game itself The New Saints secured their sixth JD Welsh Cup trophy, and an unprecedented Double-Treble of Welsh Football's major honours, as they beat first-time finalists Airbus UK Broughton 2-0 on the day.Suggest a correction