Disabled supporters issue plea to Argyle
A GROUP of disabled football fans are urging Plymouth Argyle to listen to their concerns following the departure of the club's disability liaison officer.
Former deputy stadium manager Barry Hardman, who worked closely with disabled supporters, left his post at Home Park last month.
His responsibilities have been passed to the stadium manager – but members of the Plymouth Argyle Disabled Supporters Association (PADSA) have expressed concern about the move.
Secretary Steve Helley said: "The PADSA committee met on a monthly basis with this officer to improve things on a match day and look at ways of improving things long term.
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"In recent weeks the club has made redundant the post of disabled liaison officer and has incorporated its duties within another post.
"We hope to work with the new person responsible for disability issues in moving forward
"Many disabled supporters who have travelled to away matches will concede the fact that other grounds offer far more facilities than Argyle."
Mr Helley said PADSA members had asked to be involved in the design of the new grandstand.
He said: "We have asked to meet with the owner of the club but this has not been possible as yet."
Businessman James Brent bought the struggling League Two Greens out of their administration hell in 2011.
Mr Helley added: "We understand the club has been in financial trouble and is currently in footballing trouble, and we will support the club in every way we can.
"Our message is don't forget we are here. We have a season ticket base of 165 and want to be heard just like able-bodied supporters."
Fellow member Susan Clarke says she was keen to attract new members and to work more closely with the Pilgrims.
"We represent disabled people who go to home matches and there are some who go to away matches too," she said.
"If they have got issues we can bring them to the attention of the management."
Mrs Clarke said she was disappointed to hear that Mr Hardman had left Home Park.
"A lot of football clubs have these roles to work with disabled fans and make the staff aware of their needs, so we have lost that little link," she said.
Argyle's stadium manager, Dave Boobyer, told The Herald that Mr Hardman took voluntary redundancy.
"The post of disabled liaison officer has not been made redundant," he said.
"It has always been a part-time role and previously was the responsibility of the deputy stadium manager.
"The club has recently restructured and, consequently, the role has now transferred to the stadium manager.
"As a result, there should be no overall effect on the disabled association or its relationship with Plymouth Argyle."
Mr Boobyer added: "I believe it is important that the club liaises with its supporters, and, in particular, such a large representative group as PADSA, taking into account their views and concerns and working with them to improve their enjoyment of being a football supporter.
"The only change that will affect supporters is that day-to-day ticketing and parking issues will now be dealt with directly by the ticket office.
"I will oversee this aspect but I believe that all supporters dealing directly with the ticket office will simplify procedures and make it easier in their interaction with the club."