Picture of the Sheffield Crucible Theatre which is the venue for the Snooker World Championships in Sheffield

Policy Snookering Disabled Customers

Articles have appeared online overnight celebrating the first ‘un-locked’ sporting event at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre for the World Snooker Championships. This is regarded by the Events Research Programme (ERP) (led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with support from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) as a ‘pilot event’.

According to their terms of reference: (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/970528/Terms_of_Reference-_Events_Research_Programme.pdf )

The data and analysis from this event will be fed back directly to the Prime Minister and will form part of the roadmap to re-opening other events in sports, theatres, music festivals, stadium events, nightclubs, large weddings and conferences.

So, imagine my surprise and disappointment that the local radio station in Sheffield reports that, “Any adults deemed clinically extremely vulnerable or who are pregnant will also not be permitted to attend, so will be offered either the option to transfer their ticket to the 2022 tournament or claim a full refund.”: https://planetradio.co.uk/hallam/local/news/capacity-crowd-snooker-final-sheffield-crucible/

As far as I’m concerned this policy amounts to direct discrimination against disabled people, are presumably referred to in the term ‘vulnerable’. Direct discrimination cannot be justified. In the alternative, if the policy is indirect discrimination I fail to see how the policy can be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, on the basis that disabled people in the Government’s ‘vulnerable’ category have been vaccinated.

I would like to know whether this policy has been imposed on the Crucible by the ERP. If that’s the case, then there may be a Public Law Action for Judicial Review. The impact of this policy will be significant as it is likely that the same criteria will be applied to the re-opening of other venues meaning that disabled people will be shut out of events. This is not acceptable within a society mandated by law to make itself more accessible and inclusive.

If you are a disabled customer, denied access to this event, then please know that you have the weight of the Equality Act behind you in challenging the Crucible, and potentially the Government.

If you are a venue, looking at what policies to apply when ‘un-locking’, please have regard to the need to check your policies for unintentional discrimination against protected groups, including people with disabilities and women in pregnancy and early maternity. If in doubt, we’re happy to provide free initial advice.


About the Author

Chris Fry

Chris is the founder of Fry Law.