Absence of live sport had 'significant' impact on disabled fans' mental health, study finds

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'I miss football a tremendous amount'

Forty-three percent of disabled fans say the absence of live sport during the coronavirus pandemic has had a "significant" impact on their mental health, according to a new study.

In addition, 62% of respondents said it would have a "considerable" effect on their wellbeing if they are unable to watch live sport next season.

Respondents to the study - carried out by disability equality and inclusion charity Level Playing Field - point to a lack of social interaction and the "distraction" sport provides.

However, 50% of those asked said they had concerns about returning to watch live sport in stadia, including safety worries and concerns about communication difficulties because of masks or Perspex screens.

Twelve percent of respondents said the pandemic had put them off from attending live sport ever again.

Of 570 respondents, 79% are in the "high risk" category for coronavirus.

The study also found:

  • 81% of fans intend to or already have renewed their season ticket for the 2020-21 season
  • 86% of fans expect clubs to provide live streaming services if matches continue to be played behind closed doors
  • 75% of fans would want to see hand sanitising stations installed at stadiums in order for them to feel comfortable returning

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.

"Playing Field will ensure that this is shared widely with clubs and governing bodies. I am confident that they will find the data from this survey will support them in decision making and planning as sport begins to resume."