Over the past 10 years, more and more young people have been making their way through the EFL turnstiles, with junior season ticket sales increasing by a staggering 37% since 2007.Clubs are continuing to find innovative ways to attract fans and their families to matches and 20% of all EFL club match attendees are now under the age of 16.
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 a decade of the Family Excellence Awards.
As one of only six clubs that has achieved the Family Excellence Award each season since its inception, Doncaster Rovers are worthy inclusions in our '10 of the Best’.
Despite being relegated to Sky Bet League Two in 2016, more than 650 new members have registered with Doncaster Rovers’ Junior Membership scheme this season and 28% of Rovers season ticket holders are now juniors. The club has also seen a 25% increase in the number of first time fans at the Keepmoat Stadium on a matchday since the start of the 2016/17 season.
It is a club that clearly has fan engagement firmly at the heart of its supporter strategy, having introduced several effective initiatives including an excellent ‘First Time Fans Guide’ on the website; ‘Donny’s Deli’, a refreshments delivery service where the club mascot Donny Dog delivers food to families on matchday, and a family stand concourse area packed with activities for children.
The Yorkshire club have also successfully run two junior take-over days, where young fans were invited to replace some of the key staff in matchday roles such as the Chief Executive, First Team Manager, Tannoy Announcer and Groundsmen.
Doncaster Rovers Chief Operating Officer, Liam Scully, spoke in detail about the family strategy at Doncaster Rovers and the opportunities they provide for young fans and families.
“For us more than anything it’s about the culture of the club and what we represent,” he said.
“Ultimately we want to provide a great day out, not just for the junior attending but for their parents as well. So for us really it’s about providing a full experience that doesn’t just relate to the 90 minutes out on the football pitch.
“Here at Doncaster Rovers we identify our first time fans via a CRM ticketing system. A member of staff will then meet them on a matchday and welcome them with a visit from the mascot and a signed programme, as well as taking them to the dugout where they get closer to the action and get an experience they might not have had before.
"By doing this we are removing the barriers and boundaries between spectator and those on the green rectangle.”
Scully continued: “The Family Excellence Award has been great for the game.
“The way it allows us to see what’s going on at other clubs and share best practice with each other is a huge benefit. We are all football fans and the fact that football unites to make a better offer and experience for our fans of the future is only good for the game.”
The 10th anniversary Family Excellence Award winners for the 2016/17 season will be announced at the end of April.