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.Clubs are continuing to find new and unique ways to attract fans and their families to matches, with 20 per cent of all EFL club match attendees now being under the age of 16.
With the EFL Family Excellence Awards celebrating its 10th Anniversary this season, the EFL is recognising this record-breaking rise by showcasing 10 of the best examples of family engagement and innovation across the decade.
With Millwall having recently won the EFL Family Club of the Year at the 2017 EFL Awards, they are worthy inclusions in the 10 of the Best.
EFL Awards: Click here to see a complete list of winners
A club that consistently shows outstanding levels of commitment to positively engaging with families, Millwall have improved the family experience at The Den year on year. They have recently relocated their Family Stand to a new self-contained, fully refurbished area with its own entrance and exit as well as dedicated matchday staff.
Chief Executive Steve Kavanagh spoke of the impact the family stand relocation has had on children and families on matchdays. He said: “We wanted to create an environment at Millwall that had its own entrance and exit that was specific to just families where we could make it a really special environment.
“The players buy into it, they come up and get involved with the kids on a matchday playing various games. We are converting non-attenders into attenders, and attenders into season ticket holders and that is everything we set out to achieve from the start.”
A big hit with families, Zampa’s Family Stand offers some of the finest junior matchday activities and engagement across the EFL; with free face painting, a games room with Xbox, PlayStation and table football, an arts and crafts area, a replica dugout, a merchandise stall and a candy stall as well as a free fruit giveaway stall.
Decorated and themed to appeal to kids, Zampa’s Family Stand is the place to be on a matchday with first-team player visits, mascot appearances and competition winners announced and displayed in the Family Stand concourse. This season the club has also introduced a new female mascot ‘Bolina’ to accompany Zampa the Lion, which has proved popular with young female supporters.
Junior Lions Coordinator Nena Gibson works every home matchday for Millwall, organising a variety of activities to take place for the club's young fans.
She added: “A matchday for me is just all about fan engagement and the kids.
“I know it sounds cliché, but I genuinely just love seeing everyone having fun with smiles on their faces. We have an array of activities from dart football, pool football, bouncy castles, arts and crafts and drawing competitions but it changes every week because we want to keep it exciting for the kids.”
A 37 per cent increase in junior attendances across the EFL is testament to the efforts and evolving attitudes of clubs to attract new fans to their grounds with improved matchday experiences for all ages.
These efforts are once again set to be recognised by the EFL’s Family Excellence Awards – an initiative rewarding clubs that deliver an outstanding experience for families.
The 10th anniversary Family Excellence Award winners for the 2016/17 season will be announced at the annual Family Excellence Seminar on Thursday 27th April.