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Bristol Rovers apologise after backlash to making huge error in letter sent to supporters

Bristol Rovers apologise after backlash to making a huge error in a letter sent to supporters over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The League One club have expressed their regret for a embarrassing own goal following the distribution of a letter to fans that made reference to ‘disabled fans and normal fans’.

Supporters urged the club to “do better” and to say sorry, and now they have released a statement addressing the matter.

They were apologetic “for any offence caused” for the “error in wording”, with the mistake spotted in a private email sent by the Pirates to their supporters’ club, which aimed to provide clarification regarding the upcoming introduction of a new electronic season ticket system for the next season.

Within the email, the club mentioned that disabled fans who preferred a physical season ticket card instead of a mobile phone version could obtain one free of charge.

The letter 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.”

Fans said the wording “extremely insensitive” and Bristol Rovers Disabled Supporters’ Association (DSA) expressed how “disappointed” they were with the wording used.

They wrote: “The DSA and our Club have made tremendous progress in 23/24 in areas such as facilities and stewarding.

“We are disappointed to see word ‘normal’ used in this context.

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

The letter appeared on Twitter as anger emerged over the use of the word “normal” to describe those non-disabled supporters.

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, 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 tweeted.

“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

The club have continued to receive criticism on social media, even with the original post showing the letter now been taken down.

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

Bristol Rovers said after Bristol Post reported in the backlash: “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.”

This is how fans reacted as Bristol Rovers apologise after backlash to making a huge error in a letter sent to supporters…

@meeksy37: Wow 🙈🙈🙈

@cw_gas76: It’s an appalling choice of word. You have to wonder just how shambolic it is behind the scenes these days.

@chalkie06: My son has adhd and gets dla , he goes to a mainstream school and does everything that his piers do , and they as we do see him as normal. The club seems to be going. Down hill fast with its communication with the fans (customers to them)

@si_hartley15: Just issue a blanket apology for 12 months. The next colossal fcuk up is imminent after all.

@Brionyee: It’s pretty poor and distasteful that it was written in this way.

@Ryann_BRFC_95: “Normal fans” is utterly abysmal wording

@gas1883: Normal fans – Jesus Christ

@petersaunders19: It’s an idiotic and poorly worded response. Author and proofreader need to take their time a bit more, I’d say. Awful message.

@bwfc_elliot: That’s pretty poor tbf

@amy_louiseex: It’s absolutely fantastic that my beloved club, right since early childhood… now thinks of me as not being ‘normal’…. Because I unfortunately ended up with multiple rare, severe illnesses.. 😂🫠 Cheers lads, someone ‘normal’ deserves the sack

@SurreyGas: Disappointing, worrying and extremely insensitively worded response. So as an older fan I’m not a normal fan & what do disabled fans think about not being regarded as normal! I’d hazard a guess that lost revenue from non renewed season tckts exceeds £15 for those wanting a card

@AdrianoDeGenna1: I’m sorry but it’s absolutely disgusting in my opinion. Love our club but gee they don’t help themselves sometimes and have some really thick people working for them. #tinpotforever.

@180_Gas: “Normal fans” is horrendously worded. When you have already alienated your disabled fanbase with the pricing for a physical season card the last thing you should do is follow it up with a statement like that.

@weirdfishes86: Jesus Christ

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