Rams in row over disabled man's season ticket
AN ANGRY Derby County supporter has been locked in a three-year battle with the Rams in a row over his disabled son.
Patrick Cooke, of Hilts Cottages, Crich, has been a Derby County season ticket holder for 40 years and has had the same seat at Pride Park ever since the stadium opened.
His son, Chris, who has cerebral palsy and autism, has only recently started to show an interest in football and when the seat next to his father and uncle became available was given a concession-price season ticket in 2009-10.
But the following season Derby County charged Mr Cooke full price for his 37-year-old disabled son to sit in the same seat.
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Mr Cooke said: "When someone with special needs shows an interest in something you want to nurture it.
"Chris has really loved going down to the football matches but doesn't understand why he's been treated like that."
The 67-year-old complained to Derby County and his MP, Patrick McLoughlin, for the increase in the price of Chris's ticket, which cost nearly £200 more.
Tom Glick, chief executive of the club at the time, wrote a letter to Mr McLoughlin which cites the Disability and Discrimination Act and the Equality Act. It said: "Making special accommodations to selected individuals would put the club in breach of those acts.
"The DDA and Equality Act states that the club must be consistent and fair in its approach to the many disabled supporters."
But Mr Cooke, a retired fireman and magistrate, argued that the club's actions have been unfair and inconsistent.
He said his son deserved a discount but also should be allowed to sit with his father and uncle as he requires constant supervision. Mr Cooke said: "Chris can't go to matches on his own, me or his uncle have to take him.
"Derby County seem to think they haven't done anything wrong but I'm extremely upset about this.
"They say they need to be fair and consistent but there's nothing fair and consistent about giving someone something and then taking it away.
"Chris turned around and said to me 'why have Derby County done that to me?'. It's just not on."
A spokesperson for Derby County said: "Upon hearing this long-standing issue that Mr Cooke has experienced at Pride Park Stadium, this is a matter which clearly needs resolving.
"First and foremost, the club will look to make contact with Mr Cooke in the near future to arrange conversation, if he so wishes, between himself and Derby County Disabled Supporters' Club and their chairman, Tim Rees, who happily acts on the behalf of our disabled supporters and has a strong relationship with the club.
"From that point, dialogue can begin to find a resolution to this matter."