Neil Doncaster's Blog - Family Champions update
It’s now nine months since we announced our SPL Family Champions initiative.
Aimed at increasing the number of families attending Clydesdale Bank Premier League matches, we sent families into each of the 12 SPL clubs to report back on their experiences.
All of our clubs were sent a detailed report on their individual performances across a number of key areas. Pricing, first impressions, club shop and catering were among the factors scored by our undercover families to build up an overall picture of how each club fared.
I am delighted that in April, St Mirren were announced as worthy winners of the award as SPL Family Champions for season 2009/2010. What set St Mirren apart was their success in creating a positive, welcoming environment for families coming to St Mirren Park.
Best Practice Guide
But it wasn’t just about St Mirren. What came out most strongly from our investigations last season is the wide range of excellent initiatives SPL clubs are already doing to attract fans to their grounds. We have put together our own ‘best practice’ guide to highlight the fantastic work SPL clubs are already doing – and this can be found at www.scotprem.com.
This guide demonstrates how easy it is to make a football club more welcoming to families. By bringing together the best ideas from all our clubs, we have tried to inspire them to build upon the successes that they are already enjoying.
Examples of best practice from last season include:
– Hearts offered an under 12s season ticket for just £19.
– Celtic put a 360 degree video tour of Celtic Park online.
– St Mirren’s stewards played a vital role in engaging with supporters in a friendly and helpful way.
– Rangers’ stadium plans were excellent at helping new families navigate their way around Ibrox.
– Having warm and friendly staff makes all the difference to a family visiting for the first time – Hibernian’s staff excelled in this area.
– Kilmarnock’s ‘Killie Pie’ scored highly with our families as a good value and tasty local food product.
None of these ideas are rocket science – but they can all help to attract new families to a club. And, as importantly, make sure they come back, again and again.
So what are we doing to help?
The scheme will continue next season. We will be repeating the exercise and increasing the number of visits to clubs. Each SPL club will be visited on four separate occasions and will receive immediate feedback from each family. We are also exploring the introduction of themed family weekends across the SPL. And we will be hosting regular club meetings where the family experience will be top of the agenda.
A silver bullet solution?
I can hear some readers saying that ‘this won’t solve the problems faced by Scottish football’. And they are absolutely right – by itself, it won’t. But it is certainly a step in the right direction. At a time when all clubs are facing into the toughest economic outlook in a generation, it is sobering that Football League clubs have recently achieved real increases in attendances year on year. It is no surprise to hear that they have credited their ‘Family Excellence Awards’ with much of the success.
Driving more families into our grounds can only be a positive move, increasing the financial health of our clubs and generating a vibrant atmosphere. And all of this should lead to a better experience for all supporters, and not just for families.
I don’t see the SPL Family Champions initiative as a ‘silver bullet’ solution for Scottish football’s ills. But I do see it as part of the mix of different ways in which we can face into the difficult economic environment we find ourselves in.
Talking to supporters, trying to see the experience of SPL games through their eyes – can only be a good thing, and something that is entirely in line with our attempts to communicate, be transparent and be more accountable to our clubs and their fans.
SPL Family Champions Best Practice Guide
The Scottish disciplinary process
Start date 2010/11
Change: For the benefit of all
SPL Family Champions
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