Over the past 10 years, more and more young people have made their way through the turnstiles in the EFL.Junior season ticket sales have increased by a staggering 37% since 2007, and with clubs are continuing to find innovative ways to attract fans and their families to matches, 20% of all EFL club match attendees are now 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 Doncaster Rovers already being recognised for their efforts off the pitch, Wolverhampton Wanderers are the next club to be included in our ’10 of the Best’.
Read more: EFL Family Excellence Awards - 10 of the best: Doncaster Rovers
Wolves have consistently offered a matchday experience that impresses families and young fans at Molineux, particularly with the strategic introduction of the ‘Wolves 4 Family Football’ scheme. Introduced to attract younger fans to matches, the initiative has seen the club brand sections of their stadium and programme for families as well as introduce numerous activities for kids.
Prior to a matchday visit, families are offered the option of booking car parking in the family car park, as well as being sent pre-match information that includes; the cost of a matchday programme, journey time from the train station to the stadium and predicted weather forecast, all of which makes visiting Molineux as a family as stress-free an experience as possible.
Priced at £40 per family, Wolves 4 Family Football has attracted over 6,000 family members this season with Molineux offering over 65,000 dedicated family seats throughout the season.
Inside the stadium the club has consistently offered unique magic moments, where they have left envelopes for young fans on seats to introduce them to the club with an activity pack, a certificate for their first game saying ‘My First Match’, as well as a scarf. Combined with great mascot engagement, the club really does work hard to make the experience stand-out for families.
Membership Manager Kerri Davies spoke in detail about the family strategy at Wolves and the opportunities they provide for young fans and families.
She said: “With ‘Wolves 4 Family Football’ we offer a designated area for activities to take place on the concourse. Often a lot of children are at their first match, in which case we like to do something special for them. It started off as just a poster on the chair, but we gradually introduced more so now they get a Wolves scarf and a welcome certificate.
“We advertise our ‘Family 4’ games well in advance so it allows people to plan. It’s costly to come and watch football, especially for a family. We want to make it affordable and for them to be able to plan ahead. Because of this we really give them an experience.”
A 37% 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.
Davies continued: “We’ve had a steady growth with our young attendances. We run a Youth Parliament and listen to the ideas that our juniors have so it’s a mixture of old and young coming together to think of new activities.
“Sticking to the Wolves branding, we also give out Wolf head shaped biscuits for the children to eat ahead of kick off and Wolfie the mascot now has his own Twitter account where he interacts with our young fans so they know where to find him on a matchday. Wolves really is an extension of your own family!”
The 10th anniversary Family Excellence Award winners for the 2016/17 season will be announced at the end of April.