Doncaster Rovers has been awarded ‘The Football League Family Excellence Award’ for the 9th year running.Created in 2007, the Award recognises the outstanding experience provided by clubs for young fans and families as part of a scheme that won the Gold Award at the European Professional Football Leagues’ Best Practice Awards.
Rovers are one of only six clubs to have won the award every year since its launch in 2007. At yesterday’s Football League Family Excellence Awards in Wolverhampton, Rovers were also nominated for a ‘Feed the Family’ award for the introduction of ‘Donny’s Deli’ this season where Donny Dog personally delivered the children their lunch box at half time.
A total of 44 clubs from across all three divisions of The Football League have been given the Award for 2016, with a significant increase in the benchmark standard being applied by the judging panel. More than ever this year, Football League clubs are providing families with engaging family areas and offering innovative matchday entertainment that delivers a money can’t buy experience for young fans.
With an increase in the number of juniors and families now attending matches around the country this is both testament to clubs’ work to attract them, and an indication of the challenge and importance of retaining them for generations to come.
In achieving the award Doncaster Rovers has been recognised as offering superb entertainment for families at the Keepmoat Stadium throughout the 2015/16 season, engaging with young fans and families through such initiatives as our second Junior Takeover day where children were able to apply to experience 35 special match day jobs at the club. This resulted in a fourfold increase in Family Stand ticket sales for the game.
Our My Local Scream halloween party where children were invited to attend the game in fancy dress and then take part in a ghost walk once the game had finished.
The ‘First Time Fans’ initiative also sees the club mascot deliver a scarf and programme for free, while the innovative ‘Donny’s Deli’ gives families the chance to pre-order a lunch box and have it delivered to their seat at half time.
Rovers are proud to have achieved the Family Excellence Award this season, and Marketing and Communications Manager Ryan Murrant was keen to stress the importance of ensuring the club engages with the next generation of supporters.
“It’s fantastic for the club.We are absolutely delighted to be recognised for our efforts and dedication to making the family experience here a good one. We run a series of initiatives throughout the season that allow us to engage with families, school children and parents alike and we are proud of the journey that we're going on. When we run these initiatives we see a significant increase in matchday ticket sales and it is then down to us to do enough to get them to come back.
"Our junior takeover day is a standout initiative in the Football League, as is our Donny's Deli where children have their lunchbox delivered by the mascot and amongst other things that we do on matchdays, we believe we offer a valued day out in Doncaster.
"Results haven't always gone our way this season on the pitch, but with the support from the board, Gavin Baldwin and Liam Scully, Darren Ferguson and his staff, we are confident that we keep families entertained when they are here and we thank them for their support. It's great for us all and shows that we're doing the right things to build a fan base for the future.
"It will always be our aim to make our fans proud of the club and to instill civic pride across Doncaster."
6 clubs have secured the Award in every year they have been eligible to receive it - Doncaster Rovers, Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town and Milton Keynes Dons, Cardiff City and Reading. Wigan Athletic has been awarded the accolade for the first time.
In announcing the successful clubs, Football League Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey, said: “The Football League Family Excellence Award continues to provide Clubs with a standard to aspire to. The objective of the Award is to recognise those Clubs who have successfully attracted more families and young fans to matches.
“Innovation is at the heart of Clubs’ success and our partnership with both Channel 5 & Nickelodeon (Nick Kicks) is part of our central contribution in supporting Clubs’ work in this important area by increasing the profile of our games among the next generation of fans.”
The Award recipients are decided by an independent assessment using real families that has been commissioned by The Football League, at all 72 League clubs, during the 2015/16 season.
The Football League has already recognised the clubs delivering the very best family experience in each division this season through the ‘Nickelodeon Family Club of the Year’ award at this season’s Football League Awards. Fulham were announced as overall winners, with Doncaster Rovers picking up the League 1 award and Oxford United being crowned League 2 winners.