Walsall Football Club has been awarded with Family Excellence Status for the 2021/22 season and joins a record number of 65 EFL Clubs in achieving the accolade. 12 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.
The Saddlers were given a special mention at the EFL Family Excellence Seminar on Monday 16th May as one of three EFL clubs who had made the biggest improvement from their first ‘mystery shop’ visit to the second visit. A number of significant changes had been noted, including the staff at the club whom the assessor singled out for praise after being welcomed and shown to various places in the stadium that would enhance their experience. A line from the assessment report described the stewards as very helpful, stepping forward to strike up a conversation and always smiling, which helped to contribute to an overall score of 8, placing the club in the top ten in League Two for matchday experience for the second visits.
The club have focussed on this with a number of training sessions and briefings with matchday staff since January as part of a wider objective to make the experience at the stadium a better one for fans, and there is much more planned for the 2022/23 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.”
A full list of all other EFL Clubs to receive Family Excellence status can be found below:
Forest Green Rovers
Milton Keynes Dons
Preston North End
Queens Park Rangers
West Bromwich Albion