The EFL Family Excellence Award winners have been announced for the 2016/17 season, and a record-breaking number of 51 clubs from across all three divisions in the EFL have been recognised.Created in 2007, the EFL Family Excellence Award recognises the outstanding experience provided by clubs for young fans and families, as well as their efforts to enhance the matchday experience.
Now in its 10th anniversary year, an unprecedented number of clubs have attained the Family Excellence Award for 2017, with a significant increase in the benchmark standard being applied by the judging panel. Four clubs – Cambridge United, Mansfield Town, Newport County and Aston Villa – have received the accolade for the first time this season.
More than ever this year, EFL clubs are providing families with engaging and innovative matchday entertainment, as they continue to find new and unique ways to attract fans and their families to matches.
Such experiences include high levels of ticket booking assistance for families, extensive pre-match advice, exciting entertainment both inside and outside stadiums, access to players, mascots and dedicated family zones and activities.
Over the past 10 years, more and more young people have made their way through the turnstiles in the EFL, with junior season ticket sales having increased by a staggering 37% since 2007, and 20% of all EFL club match attendees are now under the age of 16.
Such evidence is a strong indication of a healthy future for football in this country according to Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive.
He said: “The EFL Family Excellence Awards have proven to be a fantastic vehicle for celebrating and highlighting the excellent progress that clubs are making in providing families with improved matchday experiences.
“Now in their 10th year, the Awards have made a significant impact and this year’s winners have once again shown how innovative thinking and a strong commitment can enhance the experience for both home and away supporters.
“I wish to congratulate each and every club who has been recognised for playing their part in continuing to attract a growing number of younger fans to the game in what is undoubtedly a valuable indication of a bright and healthy future for the EFL.”
Over the past decade, eight clubs have secured the award in every year they have been eligible to receive it; Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Cardiff City, Doncaster Rovers, Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town, Milton Keynes Dons and Reading.
The Award recipients are decided using independent assessments from real families, who made matchday visits across all 72 League clubs during the 2016/17 season.
Clubs receiving the Award in 2017:
Brighton & Hove Albion
Milton Keynes Dons
Preston North End
Queens Park Rangers
Judging Comments and Process
The judges were particularly impressed with the efforts clubs are making to engage with families through matchday entertainment, refreshment facilities and mascot activities, all ensuring they can enjoy the match in a dedicated, safe, welcoming and entertaining environment.
The provision of informative, detailed pre-match information for families and first-time fans has also increased across League clubs, along with dedicated family stadium staff and specially trained family area ‘greeters’, and a comprehensive effort to rid family areas of abusive language and anti-social behaviour. These initiatives have all combined to again increase the benchmark this year.
The EFL also provides best practice guidance, benchmarking feedback and training for all clubs, to encourage them in their efforts towards achieving the mark next season.
Family Club of the Year
The EFL has already recognised the clubs delivering the very best family experience in each division this season through the ‘Nickelodeon Family Club of the Year’ award at this season’s EFL Awards.
Millwall were announced as overall winners, with Blackburn Rovers picking up the Championship award and Stevenage being crowned League Two winners.
The three other clubs shortlisted for the Family Club of the Year Award were Brighton & Hove Albion, Milton Keynes Dons and Carlisle United.