Level Playing Fields: Celebrating 25 years of audio descriptive commentary

For the past 25 years, Paul Raffo has delivered our audio descriptive commentary so the Club’s blind and partially sighted supporters can understand what’s happening on the pitch.

So as part of the Level Playing Field’s Unite For Access campaign, we met with him and the team behind the microphones to find out about the service and how it helps our fans.

You can see this interview in the video above.

Since 1998, Paul has taken to the airwaves and he is currently joined by Liam Pilkington as well as father and son combo, Harold and Andrew Nelson.

Together, the team provide live commentary on the game which is transmitted through headsets to supporters across the ground. This helps disabled fans know what is happening on the pitch, where the ball is, and what the time is. To help achieve this, the information they provide is instant and incredibly detailed, making it different from TV and radio.

The service is available to both home and away fans at all our Men’s, Women’s and EDS home matches.

Without it, many disabled fans may not be able to attend matchdays and enjoy the sport we all love.

This is the case for Stuart Beckett, who has followed the Club since Maine Road but struggled to carry on attending after a condition meant he gradually lost part of his eyesight.

After a break from attending matches, the service provided a pathway for him to return as he could now understand what was happening on the pitch. Commenting on the service, Stuart said:

“The service means I can come and watch City, whether it be at the Etihad or over at the Academy Stadium. This means many hours of enjoyment throughout the year.

However, Paul and the team have helped more than just matchday attending fans. Over the past few seasons, the team has offered City supporters from local colleges the chance to work with them so they can gain first hand experiencing working in the press box on a matchday.

This initiative is one of many things Paul is proud of during his time at the Club. Over the course of 25 years, he has seen the move from Maine Road to the Etihad Stadium, as well as commented on many key moments in our history."

When asked about his time at the Club, Paul Said:

“It’s been an amazing journey. To work for this football club as such as a passionate fan, and to know I have helped make a difference means so much to me, it’s been fabulous"

But Paul and the team’s work has also praised by industry professionals too. Level Playing Fields Chief Executive Owain Davies recently said:

“To reach the milestone of 25 years delivering ADC, is an outstanding achievement. Hearing from blind and partially sighted supporters, it is clear how vital this service is, and the work ADC commentators do to engage with those who make use of it, is helping them to further improve the standard.

“Being part of the collective matchday experience and sharing in those ‘I was there’ moments, is made possible through this service.

“We are delighted, that not only have the club committed on such a consistent basis, but that they have shared their good practice, which helps us unite to drive access and inclusion."

Level Playing Field’s Unite for Access Campaign is running until March 12th and is spotlighting the clubs making a better matchday experience for disabled sports fans.  For more information, follow this link.