A GROUP of Wrexham AFC supporters have hit back against the club as a row over a request to use the Racecourse ground pitch for an award presentation escalates.

Wrexham Disability Supporters Association (DSA) were told on Sunday, October 6, that their services at all home games would not be required for the remainder of the season, after club officials said the group had failed to provide a response within a deadline of less than 24 hours.

DSA, whose role on a matchday involves stewarding the revolutionary viewing platform, facilitating the use of Audio Descriptive Commentary (ADC) receivers and working with Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) on blue badge car parking at neighbouring Glyndwr University, say the response by the club to missing the deadline by one hour, was unreasonable.

The fallout started during the build up to the Reds game against Ebbsfleet, when DSA, who are part of wider network of disabled supporters associations known as Allies in Access, had sent a request to the club to allow a presentation to be made to the West Midlands-based group, after it won a national award at a ceremony in London.

WST and the club say this request, which also included an enquiry about complimentary tickets to the Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup fixture against St Mirren Colts, was turned down because the rules of the competition do not allow tickets to be given away, and due to restricted tunnel access on the day of matches, no presentation would be possible either.

In a joint statement issued by the club and WST they say that as a result of this, DSA decided to withdraw their matchday services for the home game against Ebbsfleet, despite being told that although an on-pitch presentation would not be possible, an offer remained for one to take place on a non-match day. After that match, DSA were given a deadline of 12pm on Friday, October 4 to inform the club about whether they would be reinstating their services at the clubs next home game, against Harrogate Town this Saturday.

A joint e-mail sent by the the club and WST to DSA, published by the club on Sunday evening, said: "So that alternative arrangements could be arranged in time, a deadline was put in place, if the deadline wasn't met, the club would need seek to make alternative arrangements, as 12pm is the cut off for making professional staffing arrangements.

"The DSA replied to an email after the deadline and as such Wrexham AFC operations had already acted to put alternative arrangements into place to ensure the platform could be used by our supporters, both on Tuesday and for the rest of the season, so we can be certain to keep continuity of service to fans.

"The decision was not taken lightly and given the situation, Kerry Evans, Wrexham AFC Disability Liaison Officer has agreed to take over the organisation of the platform alongside her other roles at the club, which will not be affected by her taking the extra work on.

"The DSA kindly agreed to deliver the ADC at the Ebbsfleet game and have been invited to continue to deliver the service at the Racecourse Ground on match days. Should the DSA feel unable to provide the receivers to our supporters who use the service, Wrexham AFC will look to source more receivers to ensure ADC can continue."

However, late on Monday evening, DSA said they felt it was important to clarify the situation regarding the club’s "disappointing decision to relieve the volunteers of Wrexham DSA of their platform duties, and also to correct some inaccuracies in their statement."

Andy Pierce, co-Chair of DSA said: "We have been criticised by some quarters for not keeping this in house. Up until the point of Sunday’s email all of the above mentioned had been kept in house for what for us was a resolvable issue.

"The refusal of complimentary tickets is a non-issue for us as a committee, it was a question asked on the off chance, and given we’d been to Molineux and The Bescot Stadium as guests previously we’d have liked to have repaid the favour if possible.

"The sour point for us was the refusal of an on pitch presentation, and the original reason given to Wrexham DSA via email which was; 'due to the fact it isn't a Wrexham AFC club related award' and not the 'Unfortunately, Wrexham AFC were further unable to facilitate this request due to the tunnel area being restricted from 2pm onwards on match day. This operation is standard practice at all of our home games' reasoning supplied in Wrexham AFC’s statement."

The DSA went on to say in its statement that the e-mail stipulating a 12pm Friday deadline was sent to them at 17.21pm on the Thursday, and although the group met that evening and decided they would like to continue to provide its services to the club, the e-mail confirming this was sent one hour after the deadline, the next day, due to full time work commitments of its volunteers.

Mr Pierce added: "We see it unreasonable to have terminated our match day presence with immediate effect for the remainder of the season, without entering any further dialogue given that we have given so much valuable time and dedication for so many years, enhancing the name of Wrexham AFC amongst its footballing peers, and recognition at the highest level in the Houses of Parliament as 'Exemplars of best practice'."