Efforts to attract younger fans and families to Football League grounds will be celebrated during the tenth annual Football League Awards in London on Sunday evening.Brighton & Hove Albion, Colchester United, last year’s winners Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes Dons, Plymouth Argyle and Stevenage have been shortlisted for the prize - which recognises the clubs which are leading the way in making Football League clubs great places for a family day out.
Football League clubs excel at attracting young fans and families to their grounds. The Football League’s Family Excellence Award scheme uses mystery-shopper families to uncover and honour those clubs that are delivering a fantastic family matchday experience week in, week out. The benchmark to achieve this recognition has been raised every year since it was introduced.
This year’s Football League Family Club of the Year award, to be presented at The Brewery in City of London this weekend, will honour a club that continues to push the standard even higher and is committed to providing the very best experience for families across The Football League.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton & Hove Albion strive to create a family-friendly environment for everyone that enters their stadium, working hard to remove any barriers that might prevent families becoming regulars at their games. Being a family club is part of the Seagulls’ identity and runs through all aspects of what they do, from activation of partners to matchday experience.
During the 2014/15 season, Colchester United set out to increase family attendance by introducing an U11s-for-free initiative at every League 1 fixture, with all members of staff and players contributing towards a culture where families can enjoy watching affordable live football in their town. As a result, the first half of the season saw more than 3,000 U11s attend a match at their local club.
Middlesbrough’s Generation Red Family Zone is a fun, educational place where the next generation of Boro fans can be introduced to the football club in a safe family environment where enjoyment and care is of paramount importance to specially-trained staff. Middlesbrough are passionate about increasing engagement with younger fans and their families, and the GRFZ exemplifies that approach.
Milton Keynes Dons
The family is firmly embedded at Milton Keynes Dons, not just by encouraging families and young people to support their local football club but also to support Academy players to graduate into the first team and become local heroes for the fanbase. Targeting the U12s market has been a particular focus for the club this year, resulting in a four-fold increase in junior members.
Plymouth relaunched their popular and pioneering Family Zone For All with a massive makeover for the new year to help make the family matchday experience even bigger and better than before for families supporting both Argyle and visiting clubs. A host of pre-game activities include a soccer skills mini-arena, mini-climbing holds, giant Jenga and various digital sports.
Stevenage work hard to attract and retain family groups of supporters while increasing their overall fanbase. This season the club has offered season ticket membership at just £25 for U12s, providing their youngest fans with a season ticket in the seats or on the terraces, plus a free Stevenage FC polo shirt or t-shirt to help them look the part when supporting their team on matchday.
2013: Cardiff City
2011: Cardiff City
2010 (Divisional): Reading/Huddersfield Town/Shrewsbury Town
2009 (Divisional): Wolverhampton Wanderers/Southend United/Shrewsbury Town
2008 (Divisional): Norwich City/Huddersfield Town/Wycombe Wanderers