Sutton United has been awarded Family Excellence Status for the 2021/22 season and joins a record number of 65 EFL Clubs in achieving the accolade. Twelve Clubs have also been crowned as ‘Gold Award’ winners for their exemplary work in engaging families on matchdays.
The record-breaking number, up from 63 Clubs in 2019/20, recognises continuous improvement and best practice in family engagement across the leagues and supports Clubs’ efforts to attract and retain young fans of the future.
Given the particularly challenging set of circumstances that society faced during the COVID-19 Pandemic, EFL Clubs’ work to ensure supporters have been welcomed back safely, whilst boosting the matchday experience has been recognised across the scheme this season.
EFL Clubs received two ‘mystery family’ visits throughout the season, with their feedback and reports determining whether each respective club would achieve ‘Family Excellence’ status. Now in its 14th year, the Family Excellence Scheme is an ongoing consultation programme, which aims to drive continuous improvement and best practice in family engagement across the leagues.
Club vice-chairman Adrian Barry, who has been representing the club at EFL Supporters' Liaison meetings during the 2021-22 season, a role that will now be taken up by Claire Loughlin , commented: ''It's fantastic for the club to achieve Family Excellence in our first season in the EFL, and a tribute to the hard work put in by everybody to make a visit to the VBS Community Stadium an enjoyable one for all the family, but there is so much more we can do and we will be looking at and learning from those clubs which have attained Gold status. I am delighted that Claire Loughlin has agreed to take on the Supporters' Liaison Officer role as a part of this process, and we look forward to implementing some of our plans next season.''
EFL Chief Executive, Trevor Birch, said: “I would like to congratulate the record number of Clubs that have achieved Family Excellence status this season. Ensuring a memorable matchday experience is vital to attract the next generation of young fans so it’s great to see so many clubs excelling in this area. Fans returning to EFL clubs in their millions this season has been fantastic to see and club staff should be commended for going the extra mile to make the matchdays engaging for families attending live games.”
The EFL’s Family Excellence Scheme launched during the 2006/07 season to reward Clubs in their efforts to deliver an outstanding match-day family experience.
The scheme revolves around ‘mystery fan’ visits made to all EFL Clubs each season, with assessors and family groups reporting back on their experiences across a range of touchpoints.
The assessments and the feedback they produce help foster a commitment to continuous improvement, and the scheme has seen Clubs set benchmark standards in providing such things as family fun zones, family-oriented concourse entertainment, matchday activity schedules, creative catering options, interaction with Club mascots, players and enthusiastic family-friendly Club staff.
These visits, and the positive changes made as a result, go towards determining whether Clubs are awarded Family Excellence status each season, a desirable and important endorsement to further promote the matchday experiences they offer to new and existing families and their wider fanbases.