An elderly football fan fears he has seen his beloved team play for the last time – because of a health and safety row.
Ray Reed, 90, has been watching Sunderland AFC for 83 years, and still has a season ticket at the Stadium of Light.
The former miner, from the Dyke House area of Hartlepool, and his family have been caught up in an argument as to where his wheelchair can be stored in the stadium.
He is unable to walk more than a short distance following a stroke four years ago, and uses a foldable wheelchair, which has in the past been stored in the press room at the Stadium of Light during games.
However, all of that recently changed when the club told the family they could no longer maintain the arrangement.
Ray attends games with granddaughter Layla, 35, and son Alan.
There are tears in his eyes when he thinks about it. He lives for that club and he thinks it’s all overLayla Reed
Layla said: “We were told at the beginning of last season by a steward that they were unable to store the wheelchair, and we would have to get him into the ground, then take the wheelchair back to the car, and vice versa after the game.
“It became more and more difficult and then this summer we were told we could revert back to storing it in the press room.
“I was called last Thursday, though, and advised that they were no longer willing to do it.
“He thinks the club don’t want him there any more and genuinely feels he has seen his last game.
“He doesn’t want to sit in a disabled area because he’s not disabled.”
A Sunderland AFC spokesman said: “Ray is a long-standing supporter of many years and naturally we have been keen to do all we can to ensure he can continue to attend games.
“We met with Mr Reed at the start of last season in relation to access and the storage of his father’s wheelchair, and he was happy with the solution we afforded at that time, which included complimentary parking at the stadium.
“We are happy to discuss the matter again with him directly to ensure that he is happy with the solutions we provided.”