The recent Doncaster Rovers Fan Experience survey has seen more than 800 Rovers supporters set the improvement agenda for a new era at the Club.
The survey, which was launched at the end of April and contained more than 70 questions, asked supporters to rate their match day experiences, identify improvement areas and, importantly, to put into words 'what the Club means'.
The feedback represents the first step in the In Rovers We Trust fan engagement programme, which sees supporters working in partnership with the Club with the ultimate goal of rediscovering Rovers' special identity and creating experiences that will not only make loyal followers proud but also help welcome more people to the Rovers family.
The survey asked supporters to explain their connection to the Club and put into words 'what the Club means' and while comments about local pride and family connection may have been expected, what does come across strongly is an identity built on defying the odds and overcoming adversity - with humour and good grace.
'I think we all understand that a football club is about a lot more than just winning' commented new Rovers Chief Executive Gavin Baldwin, 'but what supporters are describing is something much more unique. They've given us an insight into the Club's values and identity and that will help us address the issues supporters are pointing out and also help us meet future challenges'.
Warm and Friendly
Supporters give the 'thumbs up' to several aspects of their match day experiences, including the ticketing, retail & stewarding teams - all of whom are praised for their warmth and friendliness. The quality of facilities inside the stadium receives praise and the family experience at Doncaster Rovers is also highly rated (the Club again won a Football League Family Excellence Award this season).
While the Club have made a number of improvements in recent months, supporters identify several areas where change is needed. Principal among these is the atmosphere and overall feel of a match day at the Keepmoat. 'Fans appreciate the quality of the Keepmoat and certainly don't want to go back to some of the facilities at Belle Vue' adds VSC Secretary Martin O'Hara, 'but they don't see much of the Club's identity at the new stadium and they'd like the Club to re-claim this'.
The results back this up with fans expressing a desire to work more closely with the Club to improve areas such as the stadium vicinity (where there is little to occupy supporters and nothing representative of the Club's identity and history) and the atmosphere inside the stadium (the creation of a partisan 'home end' where more vocal fans can congregate to support the team).
This sense of missing identity is also reflected in comments on the quality of the refreshments and retail experiences at the Stadium.
Having set the agenda for change, fans will now get the opportunity to work in partnership with the Club to prioritise and implement these changes.
The Club will liaise with fans who opted in to the online panel where further input is needed to identify specific issues, while a group of fans, selected from those offering to participate in the face-to-face panel, have already been invited to a first meeting next Wednesday to help produce solutions to the challenges set by the wider supporter base.
'The survey gives a sense that we need to become Rovers again' concludes Gavin Baldwin 'but we can only do that in partnership with supporters. We'll work hard to make sure that the Club we continue to build is one that supporters can recognise and be proud of. The response to the survey has been excellent and gives us a fantastic starting point.'
Fans can provide feedback to the Club at any time or enquire about the recent survey by contacting either Shaun Lockwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or Charles Swallow at email@example.com both are also available on 01302 764664.