The EFL has joined with its member clubs across the country, in reinforcing a league-wide commitment to saying no to bad language and aggressive behaviour in family areas on matchdays, making the matchday experience more enjoyable for everyone.
Enjoy the Match campaign is an initiative that for many seasons has helped clubs to promote a zero-tolerance policy on anti-social behaviour in family areas, and can be seen across all EFL League stadia. Alongside the EFL Family Excellence Awards Scheme, it plays a crucial role in helping clubs to attract families and young supporters to EFL matches.
Originally launched in 2008 the Enjoy the Match campaign was born out of the first season of The Football League’s Family Excellence Awards scheme, after ‘mystery family’ visits to all clubs had indicated that abusive language and aggressive behaviour in stadia and/or family areas played a big part in families’ decisions to attend football matches again in future.
The findings from the Family Excellence Awards Mystery Family visits said that ‘foul and abusive language created a negative impression at 46% of the 144 games assessed’ and it ‘formed a key part of the overall impression of the day’. The conclusion reached was that it is crucial that foul and/or abusive language is pro-actively stewarded. The Football League’s ‘Enjoy the Match’ Campaign was therefore launched to help clubs reduce and remove bad language and aggressive behaviour from family areas of grounds.
Junior and family attendances across the EFL has risen significantly over recent seasons, a ringing endorsement of clubs’ extensive work to reach out, attract and engage with families. Feedback from recent EFL supporter surveys has shown that 100% of respondents who attend matches with children agree that the attitude and awareness of both supporters and club staff in helping to create a family experience was important to their matchday.
Nearly 10 years later, the message behind the campaign is as relevant as ever. The commitment across all of our 72 clubs that aggressive behaviour and abusive language is not tolerated within family areas, sends a powerful message that EFL stadia offer positive matchday experiences, where families feel engaged, safe and part of their club.
The work of clubs since that time has been impressive, with the family experience across EFL stadia almost unrecognisable in 2017 than it was nearly 10 years ago. Importantly results show attendance in family areas is increasing, families are aware of the ETM campaign, and believe it to be important. The number of junior senior ticket holders at EFL clubs has increased over recent seasons, and records indicate that junior season ticket holders now equate to a third of the number of adult season ticket holders, a clear indication that work in this area is helping to achieve positive results.
Central to the Enjoy the Match campaign is a ‘Code of Conduct’, which asks all supporters to encourage players, respect the match officials and help to create a great atmosphere within each stadium. Supporters are also encouraged to report any anti-social behaviour they witness and ask for any assistance from club stewards or other match day staff.