THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE FAMILY CLUB OF THE YEAR
Judges in this category were looking to recognise the club in each division whose efforts have made attending matches at their club an outstanding family experience.
LEAGUE 2 - SHORTLIST:
AFC Bournemouth were considered by the judging panel to have a wonderful commitment to families, with their family room being a real high point. The club also host a variety of family entertainment with mascots, cheerleader classes, Saturday clubs and kids parties. As well as these elements, ticket prices for matches have been reduced across the board with Red n' Black Cherries under 8's going free and a 43% saving on under 16's tickets, as well as free tickets to each child attending a selected school and/or year group every game and to all attendees at holiday soccer schools. All these initiatives add up to make AFC Bournemouth one of the leading family clubs in the division and a real contender to become Family Club of the Year.
Bury Football Club is about to embark on its 125th year and in that time has built a strong reputation as a family friendly club. This is shown through offering free season tickets to all children under 8 years old, as well as their designated Family Stand and the reduction of ticket prices within this area.A new initiative this season has extend Family Ticket availability to supporters behind the goals, which are more aimed at teenagers and parents. Such ticket prices caught the attention of the judges who praised the "creative approach". The club have clearly worked on ticket pricing to make attending matches at Gigg Lane accessible for families, but what really impressed the judges was that the welcome families get when they arrive at the ground really lives up to Bury's reputation as a family club.
Shrewsbury Town's move to their new Prostar Stadium provided them with a great opportunity to improve the family matchday experience, and the judges all agreed this was an opportunity they had clearly grasped.A primary focus has been on continuing the development of the Family Stand which has sold out week after week through season ticket sales, and has allowed them to develop different family specific facilities within it. Alongside this, half-time entertainment and family interaction ensure that mum's and dad's, as well as children really enjoy their day out.Supporters of the 'Enjoy the Match' campaign, Shrewsbury came up with an original initiative which stood out to the judges in the form of a text hotline allowing people to anonymously report any anti-social behaviour in the Stadium.In essence, Shrewsbury Town have pulled together all the elements that make an outstanding matchday experience for families and delivered this with great success.
Wycombe's claims to be Family Club of the Year particularly impressed the judging panel who considered that visits to Adams Park really did offer a fun-filled matchday experience for families.Considered to be a unique strength of the club is their award-winning team of stewards, meaning Wycombe can successfully say they boast one of the lowest arrest records in The Football League. Adams Park holds matchdays full of entertainment for families, with LED screens placed in the ground to keep children entertained before the game and during half time. Wycombe also hold pre-match and half time entertainment for the local youngsters in the form of penalty shoot outs, as well as having a great 'Kids Club' marquee offering face painting, skill games and many other activities. Lastly the stadium has its own family dedicated area which helps parents and children feel secure whilst giving them a great view of the game.
LEAGUE 1 - SHORTLIST:
Milton Keynes Dons
Milton Keynes Dons' commitment to family football is perhaps best reflected by their under 16's season ticket ratio of 32%, meaning 1,658 children under this age hold a season ticket, with children under 7 able to attend free when accompanied by an adult. The club runs two dedicated family days per season and this season has also run four Kids for a Quid matches.The club's Community Trust scheme is making great strides in engaging with the local community, and when families then come to a game at stadium:mk the judges felt the experience delivered by the club was right up there with the very best around.
For Southend United families are a real focus of their matchday activity.In 2008, the Club held 4 Family Days at games where prices ranged from kids go free to £15 for a family ticket. Many activities are also held around the stadium, one of which is 'Dads v Lads' matches, alongside other football related family inclusive challenges. Inside the stadium there is outstanding entertainment through the season, with concerts and Southend's very own 'Blues Idol' competition. The Blues' Junior Football Club Family Day was a dedicated discount day to which 1,330 families attended, raising over £6,000 for local Clubs. On top of all this the club offers free Mini and Junior Blues memberships.
This season Swindon Town launched their revolutionary "Family First" initiative, receiving very positive feedback.Family First provides a fast track, user friendly, family designated turnstile entry on match days.Another 2008/09 landmark initiative was the creation of a match day Junior Robins Family Room, offering an array of activities and refreshments and with players being encouraged to make room appearances. This initiative stood out to the judges as it is also made available to away juniors and was deemed to be a great example of the effort that is being made to improve the family experience and which is original to Swindon Town. The Club also organised a Family Day, the first of which was against Huddersfield Town and was a great success.With specific attention being paid to these areas there is little doubt this success will continue.
Yeovil presented their Family Club experiences with the identity "small club big heart". As a small club the Glovers have limited resources but still manage to provide a safe and welcoming environment for families, and as the judging panel recognised the very strong warmth of welcome for families when visiting Huish Park. The club have been committed to Fans of the Future and the Enjoy the Match campaign which have been supported well by fans. Other initiatives provided through the Club are offering employees of businesses and organisations around Yeovil the chance to attend a selected match with a special family ticket, something also extended to Season Ticket holders, G&WSC Members and Vice Presidents as a thank you and a chance to allow their families to watch their local club in action. So far this season there has been two 'Kids for a Quid' matches that have seen over 1,500 extra children attend which truly reflects that a small club can go a long way.
CHAMPIONSHIP - SHORTLIST:
One of Norwich City's core brand values is "Affordable Family Football" and the judges considered that this is exactly what the Canaries have managed to deliver week in and week out. The club's family area was expanded in 2008 and the seats now total 7,400. Norwich also undertake family friendly initiatives like Enjoy the Match and their Associate Group Scheme for local schools and football clubs, while through its SoccerPM! brand the club produces a whole range of family-friendly initiatives.Alongside all this, Norwich hold a host of family events including the Junior Christmas Party and the Annual Club Open Day which provides family entertainment with the full squad signing autographs.From the matchday experience to the ongoing activity through the year, it was clear to the judging panel that families really are at the very heart of Norwich City.
Plymouth Argyle have really worked to develop family aspects at the club.The new Family Area at Home Park has become a highlight of the match day experience and has attracted those who may not normally have attended football matches. The club has managed to encourage families to attend through innovative ticketing schemes and by offering family entertainment. One of these ticketing schemes is the 'Green for Life' which enables local companies to sponsor a child in the form of a season ticket. The judges were greatly impressed by Argyle's imaginative themed days which they felt helped to generate a truly fantastic matchday experience. The family experience at Argyle shows a commitment to great value, fun, entertainment, education and of course, football.
Reading's efforts in providing a family friendly match day experience at the Madejski Stadium make them a worthy contender to become Family Club of the Year, with the judges commending their excellent work with young fans and initiatives put in place specifically for families.Car park staff reserve 'easy exit' parking spaces for families with younger supporters, and stewards bring families with children to the front of bus queues. 'Parent and child' toilet facilities are available on each concourse, while the club's own team of 'mystery shopper' supporters, including junior fans, visit regularly.Reading have also built their tremendously successful 'Young Royals' scheme, in which junior members receive an exclusive membership pack, as well as the chance to win a visit the training ground, be a match day mascot, and even bring a player to school. Alongside this activity Reading have also encouraged families to attend matches with ticket prices halved for under-16s and reduced to £1 for Young Royals for a number of games.
Wolves have transformed the family experience at Molineux, achieving great results through a number of initiatives. The club's long term 'Wolves 4 Family Football' campaign was developed with a number of different strands, offering cheap ticket pricing for families at 4 specified matches, exclusive car parking for families and special junior discounts on season tickets.Over 6,000 family members alone have benefited from 'Wolves 4 Family Football' so far this season, with approximately one in two of these families attending Molineux for the first time. What particularly caught the attention of the judges was the opening of a dedicated Family Information Centre at Molineux this season, and Wolves becoming the first football club in the country to participate in the National Child Safe initiative. Other innovative ideas have been an Open Training Session and a team photocall exclusively for families.