By Sam Johnson
An 89-year-old Sunderland fan may have to cancel his season ticket because his wheelchair will no longer be stored during a match.
Raymond Reed has supported Sunderland AFC since he was eight years old and has attended games ever since.
However, a recent decision made by the club to stop a steward storing Raymond’s wheelchair during a match may force him and his family to stop attending games.
Raymond’s son Alan, who attends matches with his father, has said they are “extremely disappointed” with the situation they have been put in by the club.
Without the club’s help, Alan who pushes Raymond’s wheelchair has to go back and forth between the car and the Stadium of Light (SoL) with the wheelchair, adding unwanted difficulty to a match day.
Since suffering a stroke, Raymond has struggled to walk without the aid of a wheelchair.
Alan said the current situation is making a match day a lot more challenging.
“It’s adding at least an extra 30 minutes to getting home which is ridiculous,” said Alan, who transports Raymond to and from matches.
“The club should provide somewhere to store them [wheelchairs], and with a stadium that size, there definitely should be somewhere.”
Raymond has since written a letter to the club pleading they continue to store his wheelchair as they have done for the last seven years.
After a meeting with Sunderland’s safety manager Paul Weir a compromise was made to give the Reed’s family free parking in the orange car park closer to the Stadium Of Light.
Commenting on the situation, Mr Weir said: “The Stadium is accessible for people in wheelchairs and there are spaces available for people to watch the game whilst sitting in their wheelchair.
“The arrangement between Mr Reed and the steward (to store the wheelchair) has had to end, as we do not have the space to accommodate the storage of wheelchairs anywhere in the Stadium.”
Despite this, Alan still has reservations about the solution offered by the SoL, saying: “Try pushing a wheelchair one way against everybody coming out the ground. It doesn’t work.”
Alan has also said, if something doesn’t change soon, the club will be losing a family of season ticket holders.