Marseille stadium work irks disabled fans
Marseille's Stade Velodrome is currently undergoing renovation to make it one of Europe's most modern venues, but the club's disabled supporters have been left disappointed by the changes.
The three-year, €267 million facelift, due to finish in summer 2014, will cover the stadium's four stands and lift its capacity to 67,000 in preparation for the venue to stage Euro 2016 matches. The Ganay Stand was reopened for last Friday's league game against Bordeaux, and though OM triumphed 1-0 to move into second in Ligue 1, disabled fans placed in the second and fifth tiers of the 22,000 all-seater structure still left the ground with frowns.
"In terms of the security, it was very difficult. As for visibility, it was okay on the second tier, but if there's a big crowd pushing, it wouldn't be good. Some people told me they wouldn't come back," Rene Poutet, head of Handifan Club OM, told Le Phoceen. "Those in wheelchairs on the fifth tier had two railings at eye level, which meant they practically didn't see the game. We were told it was due to health and safety regulations."
Poutet is due to meet OM officials on Friday in a bid to resolve the situation and get the necessary improvements implemented to allow those occupying the 258 places reserved for disabled fans to be able to see Elie Baup's men in action.
"We're not blaming anyone, but things need to be looked at again," Poutet added. "It's a waste of time and money. It was okay for the first game, but it has to be put right. They're giving us a handicap to add to our handicap."