Anger as Bristol Rovers Football Club refers to 'disabled' and 'normal' fans

The club's Disabled Supporters' Association said it was 'disappointed' to see the wording in the letter
Bristol Rovers Disabled Supporters' Association said it was 'disappointed' to see the wording in the email. Credit: BPM Media

Bristol Rovers has apologised after the club referred to fans as "disabled" and "normal" in an email.

The club is introducing e-tickets for season ticket holders and is offering a physical card to supporters who do not want to have their ticket on their phone.

In a private email exchange between the club and a representative of its supporters' club, Bristol Rovers said that the £15 fee for those who want a physical season card will be waived for disabled fans.

It said: “We have provided all disabled fans… to get free cards for them upon request.

“As for normal fans and older fans, they can purchase the card for £15, which is the exact cost on the club.

"We are not making any money on it, just covering the costs.”

The club has since issued a statement apologising for any offence called, saying: "No harmful intention of meaning was ever intended in the wording."

But fans were quick to label the wording “extremely insensitive” and Bristol Rovers Disabled Supporters’ Association (DSA) said it is “disappointed” in the wording used.

“We are disappointed to see (the) word ‘normal’ used in this context," they said.

The letter contained information about season tickets and how fans can receive physical cards or e-tickets Credit: ITV News

“One area agreed with Club for 2024/25 is a review of comms and styles to reflect what is current best practice."

In a reply to another post, the DSA said: “We do get folk make slip-ups - we are all human.

“It’s a word our working group picked up more than once in historic documents on the website which we are working together to review/replace this summer as well as knowledge refreshers.

“We can only make it better together.”

One fan of the club, Jake Barber, explained why the word had upset him so much.

“I'm a disabled man. Just because I no longer use a wheelchair doesn't mean I'm not,” he posted on social media.

“Disabled people are normal people. Just because I'm disabled doesn't make me any less normal than anyone else. Wording is so key sometimes. Do better.”

Jake later posted a video message and said: “I don’t think they meant any harm. I’d like to think they didn’t mean any harm, but like I said just because you’re not in a wheelchair, doesn’t mean that you don’t need access to disabled facilities or help like that.

“I just think the club have worded that awfully, so do better,” he added

Bristol Rovers' statement in full

"Bristol Rovers Football Club would like to apologise for any offence caused by an error in wording in a recent communication regarding disabled supporters.

"No harmful intention of meaning was ever intended in the wording, which was included in a private email exchange between the Club and a representative from the Bristol Rovers Supporters Club.

"The Club is proud of our ongoing commitment to provide the best experience for all supporters of Bristol Rovers FC, in particular our work with the Club's Disabled Supporters Association to ensure fans with accessibility or additional needs are able to enjoy each and every match at The Memorial Stadium.

"In addition, the Club were recently commended by the EFL by achieving Bronze in the EFL Equality Code of Practice.

"Bristol Rovers Football Club is committed to making sure our Club is a safe, welcome and inclusive environment for everyone."