Words by Colette Carr

Celtic Football Club became the first club in Scotland to install a Changing Places facility just days after winning a top access award from European football’s governing body.

The Glasgow club won a special Collaboration Award at the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) conference in Spain for ongoing commitment to inclusion and accessibility and its work with the Celtic Disabled Supporters Association.

Celtic Park, which has been the highest rated Scottish stadium on Euan’s Guide for the past two years has implemented a number of facilities and initiatives to ensure it lives up to its motto, “A Club Open to All”. Accepting the award in Athletic Bilbao’s ground was Peter Ritchie and Kevin Mackin of the club’s Disabled Supporters Association and Alexis Dobbin, Celtic’s Disability Access Officer, who work closely with the club to ensure the matchday experience runs smoothly for disabled supporters.

The 60,000 seater stadium hosts a number of provisions, including a plaformed section for wheelchair users and ambulant fans to ensure they are sheltered from the elements, a section for visually impaired supporters with a dedicated audio commentary stream and recorded manager’s programme notes from Brendan Rodgers, information leaflets and accessible menus at food and drink kiosks among others. Supporters have also praised the stewarding staff for “the little things”, including getting them a cup of tea or a blanket on the colder nights the Scottish season can bring.

Recently, the club debuted a showstopping light show ahead of kick off their Europa League win over Germans RB Leipzig that was given the green light by Epilepsy Scotland and other medical professionals, who ensured it did “not contain any light sequences of unusual colours or frequencies that would raise concerns about photosensitivity among the general public”.

Speaking to the club, Peter Joyce, Chairman of the CDSA said: “The CDSA are also delighted to be recognised by CAFE with this award for our work with Celtic. Considering the number of clubs in Europe, it is an honour to be chosen for this above others.

“We are working closer with Celtic than we have ever been and this is bringing added benefits for our members. We will continue to develop initiatives to improve facilities and promote inclusion at Celtic Park and elsewhere.”

Following the award, Celtic today unveiled the country’s first Changing Place located in Celtic Park’s North Stand, affectionately known as The Jungle, allowing supporters additional safety and dignity at games.

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