Man Utd tells family with disabled son: Other clubs would welcome you
This is a tale of how not to do public relations.
Manchester United fan Martin Emery wanted to watch a game at Old Trafford with his three sons, one of whom uses a wheelchair.
So he asked if the club could somehow seat them all together.
Man Utd has rule for the disabled section of its stadium - each wheelchair user can have one carer with him. The club decided not to make an exception for the family.
But instead of simply turning down the request, the club’s disability liaison officer wrote in an e-mail: "There are some clubs that would welcome you with open arms and possibly ask you to bring as many family members as possible, the downside is it wouldn’t be at Old Trafford, most probably Rochdale, Oldham or Stockport. They have the space and that’s the critical thing."
Basically, if you want to sit together, go watch some other club play football.
Which the family did – they went to watch Stockport County play, and yes, they got to sit together.
'Can’t sit in two places at once'
Mr Emery said it was impossible for him to look after his disabled son Jordan, 18, and his two younger sons, Ethan and Zac, if they weren't all seated together.
Ethan and Zac are members of the club.
"I can’t sit in two places at once. I thought there may be some solution but they just don’t seem interested. Jordan doesn’t speak but he likes watching football and would love to go with the younger boys," The Telegraph quoted him as saying.
Old Trafford has a capacity of 75,635, 120 of which are for wheelchair users. The tickets for these spaces are free, and given on a match-by-match basis.
Stockport and Rochdale can seat 10,000 each, while Oldham can hold 13,000, reported Eurosport.
Man Utd said the e-mail was simply about the relative space constraints at its stadium, which meant the brothers couldn't be seated together.
Its spokesman said: "The club received a request for a family of four including one wheelchair user and a carer to sit together at a game. We advised that, due to the current configuration of our stadium and in line with stadium safety protocols, we were not able to facilitate that.
"We suggested an alternative with the father (as primary carer) and his son to be situated on the wheelchair viewing platform and for the two other children to be accompanied by an adult in the seating area just to the front of the platform, subject to those seats being available."
Sources: The Telegraph, Eurosport