Family-friendly football clubs in seal of approval

A young supporter enjoys pre-match entertainment in the Sheffield Wednesday family area.
A young supporter enjoys pre-match entertainment in the Sheffield Wednesday family area.
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South Yorkshire football clubs have cemented their family-friendly reputations with national honours.

Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United and Rotherham United are celebrating after being crowned winners of the Football League’s Family Excellence Award.

The Owls, Blades and Millers have all been recognised for providing an ‘outstanding’ experience for young fans and families at their grounds.

Winners are decided by an independent assessment - which included sending a mystery shopper out to all clubs in the Football League during 2012/2013. Of the 72 teams assessed, 47 received the coveted award in the list announced this week.

For Hillsborough Stadium, it follows on from Wednesday’s successful survival in the Championship. After the club was promoted bosses stepped up efforts to encourage more youngsters and their parents to enjoy a day out at an Owls game.

Sheffield Wednesday’s director of communications Trevor Braithwait said: “Staff members across the board have put a huge amount of hard work into ensuring that the club receives this prestigious family award and deserve full credit as a result.

“We are extremely proud of our status as a football club that first and foremost serves its community and this award sits firmly within our ethos both now and moving forward.”

Judges were particularly impressed with matchday entertainment, refreshment facilities and mascot activities, all ensuring they can enjoy the match in a dedicated, safe, welcoming and entertaining environment at all three South Yorkshire clubs.

Emma Wylie, head of supporter services at Sheffield United, said: “We are very pleased to have again been awarded with the Football League Family Excellence status.

“The Blades are very much a family and community club and we will continue to develop our work in this area to maintain the standard we have achieved.”

At Rotherham United, the award highlighted the improvements to match day experience which have been brought about by its move to New York Stadium. The Millers were awarded the Family Excellence status for the first time in 2011.

Football League chairman Greg Clarke said: “The award provides clubs with a benchmark in their efforts to attract families through their gates.

“It is hugely encouraging to see so many clubs receiving the accolade, demonstrating the Football League’s commitment to securing the next generation of fans.”