DISABLED Saints fans face “outrageous” parking conditions as they prepare to watch the opening game of the new season.

Southampton City Council has implemented a new stadium tow-away zone, which is designed to ensure no vehicles are parking in the vicinity of the stadium on matchdays.

The tough new rules come into force ahead of the first Premier League game of the season tomorrow when Mark Hughes’ side take on Burnley at St Mary’s.

The only vehicles authorised to park nearby will be authorised coaches and buses, and police vehicles.

Any cars parked in the new zone will be towed off leaving the owner with a £140 bill to get it back from a pound.

City transport bosses apologised to disabled supporters, but said the move is vital to allow 999 vehicles access to the area in an emergency.

Roads close to the stadium are often used by blue badge holders who park on double yellow lines in order to gain closer access when Southampton Football Club home games are taking place at St Mary’s Stadium.

Now they say the new rules could stop them attending Saints games and one angry fan is even threatening legal action.

Saints have even had to set up additional parking and a bus to help fans affected by the new tough parking regulations.

Campaigner Dave Davies, who is part of a disabled action group called Access for All, has said the Southampton City Council’s move will mean disabled fans may have trouble making it to the first game of the season tomorrow.

And Saints’ Disabled Supporters’ Association’s secretary Paul Lucas also blamed the council for “not treating disabled people properly”.

Mr Davies, 54, also a season ticket holder, said: “It’s outrageous this has happened.

“They have not only not told supporters about this but they have made no provision at all for fans who normally park in disabled spots near the stadium.

“There is no alternative for them because disabled people now have no option but to park further away.”

He added: “When the stadium was first planned provisions such as park and ride journeys were muted as a way of stopping pollution but also for stopping the high levels of cars.

“This needs to be done now and the city council needs to change its decision.”

Mr Davies plans to launch a judicial challenge against the city council’s plan to implement the tow-away zone.

Access for All is a support group which will campaign against disability issues at the club, including the installation of disabled handrails.

Mr Lucas, pictured, said the stadium only has 50 disabled parking bays, with at least 20 people on a waiting list to obtain one.

He added: “I think the city council are not treating disabled people properly.

“Disabled people go to games for enjoyment and, in itself, its to park within the Southampton footprint is difficult, let alone then having to walk to the stadium.

“It’s ridiculous what they are expecting disabled people to do.”

Saints said they have contacted all disabled access season ticket holders from the last two years in order to tell them about the changes at the ground.

In a letter to fans, the club wrote: “We have recently been made aware that Southampton City Council have introduced some more robust parking restrictions in the roads surrounding St Mary’s Stadium on event days.

“We understand that this may create a challenge for disabled supporters and those with reduced mobility that have historically parked near to the stadium in order to attend matches.

“At Southampton Football Club we have been working on finding an alternative for our fans before the opening match of the new season on Sunday against Burnley.”

The club added: “For Sunday 12th August, with the help of Red Funnel, we have secured a number of spaces in their Triangle Car Park.

“You can access this car park for free by showing an attendant your Blue badge and your Match Ticket/ Season Ticket.

“There will be an accessible bus transporting fans from the car park itself directly to the stadium, dropping off in Melbourne Street.

“The bus will travel twice before the match, at midday and at 12.45pm.

“The bus will depart again from the drop of point 20 minutes after the final whistle, returning to the Triangle car park."

What Southampton City Council had to say

Southampton City council said the need for the new zone is in case emergency vehicles need unobstructed access to the stadium.

Drivers face charges of £140 if they breach the parking rules around the stadium on matchdays.

The tow away fee is £105 and the penalty charge is £35 (assuming this is done on the day).

To get the car back, people should contact the telephone numberon the yellow tow away signs located on the roads around the stadium.

A city council spokesman said: “A stadium tow away zone has been in place since the stadium was developed, but the quality of the signs had deteriorated.

“We’re replacing the old signs with new ones stating

“No Loading Stadium Event Days” and yellow kerb blips that highlight that a no loading restriction is in place.

“We have extended the tow away zone to allow greater flexibility in the event of an emergency and to maintain access along what are active industrial estate roads, as well as some of the residential roads in the Chapel development.

“While we sympathise with blue badge holders, the primary purpose of the public highway is for the passage of vehicles.

“When and where the demand for this access is likely to be significant, emergency vehicle access must take priority.

“We are working with the Saints to communicate this to supporters prior to the first match of the season.”

The roads affected are...

  • Albert Road North both sides
  • Anglesea Terrace both sides from Albert Road North to Paget Street
  • Belvidere Road both sides from Rochester Street to Marine Parade
  • Britannia Road both sides for its entire length
  • Chapel Road both sides from Albert Road North to 10 metres west of No 99 Chapel Road
  • Granville Street both sides for its entire length
  • Marine Parade, both sides for its entire length
  • Melbourne Street all sides for their entire lengths
  • Paget Street all sides for their entire lengths
  • Rochester Street both sides for its entire lengths
  • Standford Street both sides for its entire length and Victoria Street both sides for its entire length.