YORK City Knights media manager Gavin Wilson has hailed the vastly improved wheelchair access at the LNER Community Stadium as a “million miles away” from the club’s other homes.

The LNER Community Stadium contains 83 seats for those requiring disabled/wheelchair access across all four of its stands.

The North and South stands each hold seven ground floor seats while the West Stand has 54 seats at its first floor. There is both ground floor and first floor seating in the East Stand, with seven in the former and eight in the latter.

Lifts are positioned at the new facility to provide access to all first floor seats.

For wheelchair users, like the Knights’ Wilson, this represents a significant upgrade on the previous sports grounds in York and makes a huge difference to the match-day experience.

Wilson said: “I had a spinal injury in 2001 so I’ve been in a wheelchair for 20 years now. I’ve experienced the old Huntington Stadium with the racetrack, Bootham Crescent and now the Community Stadium.

“This facility is a million miles away from the previous two. Huntington served the Knights well in its early days but it did feel a bit disconnected from the town and you felt a bit disconnected from the action with the running track.

“Bootham Crescent was a grand old lady and it had lots of character and had a huge connection with the football fans because they’d been there for 90 years, so I could understand their emotions.

“But I think that when they get the opportunity to get into these 21st-century and world-class facilities, that the city has deserved for such a long time, I think they’ll be happy at this new place.”

The layout at Bootham Crescent proved particularly difficult for Wilson due to its lack of access.

“From a disabled point of view, there were problems at Bootham Crescent, but that’s what you would expect with a 90-year-old stadium,” explained Wilson. “Even the hospitality suites faced onto the car park rather than the pitch.

“For me, the media facilities were completely inaccessible and I couldn’t get near them. I sat in front of the front row of the Main Stand and that caused problems on a matchday.

“I couldn’t see the bottom corner of the opposite end of the pitch which was problematic for live updates and match reports.

“They did the best they could and there was a slightly raised point at the side of the Main Stand.

“I’m not blaming anyone at all and now we’re in the new stadium, my vantage point is at the back of the Main Stand is absolutely fantastic - I get a great view of the pitch and I’m protected from the elements as well.

“The hospitality facilities are out of the world and will serve both clubs really well.”

As well as the enhanced view now provided at the Monks Cross ground, the surrounding areas also more easily accommodate wheelchair used.

Wilson added: “Outside the stadium, near where the fanzone will be and around the concourse, it’s all completely step-free with nice, flat paving.

“It might sound like a strange thing to say but when you’re in a wheelchair, it can make a real difference to have smooth footpaths everywhere. That’s all been considered by the people who have put it all together.

“It’s nice that things like that are being considered at new big projects, not just at York’s new stadium, but all across the country.

“It certainly makes life a lot easier and it’s certainly changed since I was first in a wheelchair 20 years ago.”

The only thing missing from the ground at present is supporters, who are permitted to enter from May 17.

“I’m really excited for fans to be back against Oldham on May 23, it’s going to be a fantastic occasion,” enthused Wilson. “I can’t wait to see faces again and hopefully we can start to put a few wins together.”