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City regain Family Excellence Award

9 May 2013

Exeter recognised by prestigious Football League award

Exeter City are proud to announce that the club has been awarded the Family Excellence Award by the Football League.  The announcement was made at St Andrew’s, the home of Birmingham City, on Wednesday 8th May.

The Football League recognises three categories of ‘matchday experience’.  The basic category is clubs concentrating only on safety.  The middle ground is taken by those who also make it easier for supporters to attend matches, and finally those in the top echelon who show care and engagement at every touch-point with their supporters.  Every year the standard gets higher and more difficult to judge who should be in each category.

The Family Excellence Award is one of the key barometers of where a club sits, as what happens at family level is cascaded through the full range of supporter base.  The dramatic degree of change year-on-year can be evidenced as less than ten clubs have won the award every year since its inception.

Last year, Exeter City lost their status as a holder of the coveted Family Excellence Award.  This was against a backdrop of a record 52 clubs receiving the accolade.  Because the Supporters’ Trust is the club’s majority shareholder and because of City’s massively successful commitment in the wider community agenda through the Football in the Community Trust, this was an embarrassing blow.

Chairman Edward Chorlton and the Football Club Board saw regaining the award as one of the priorities for the 2012/13 season.  Operation ‘Who Cares Wins’ (with no disrespect meant to the SAS motto ‘Who Dares Wins’), was launched.   

The awards for season 2012/13 were made on Wednesday at Birmingham City’s ground.  The number of winners were reduced to just 47 clubs.  Amongst them was Exeter City.

Every club receives two visits a year from a mystery family who judge the club on more than 70 supporter touch-points on a matchday.  The clubs have to achieve a minimum score of 75 per cent on each visit and that there must be an improvement in the second report to prove on-going commitment.

Going into the judging, the club’s volunteer Head of Customer Relations Richard Knight was worried that the first report on the club’s matchday experience was so good that it would be hard to make the necessary improvement by the time the second visit was made.  Richard’s concern was not unfounded.   The score did indeed drop from 75 per cent to 65 per cent for the second family visit.

Richard was invited by the Football League to judge the marking of Championship and League 1 clubs (he was excluded from judging League 2). He explained: “There were 15 League 2 clubs met the standard automatically.  Exeter City was unfortunately not one of them.  They were the first of the remaining nine League 2 clubs to be judged by the panel.  Exeter City received the green light and exceptionally strong endorsements from all six judges – two from Championship clubs, two from League 1, Supporters Direct and an independent expert.  I don’t think anyone else received 100 per cent backing.”

Richard continued: “Lessons have also been learnt.  Matchdays at Exeter City are extremely busy.  The family missed so much that we can be reasonably optimistic of further progress next year.  They did not find our best kept secret – the family area under the Stagecoach Stand and Nicky Netherway’s  show-stopping hot chocolate with mountainous lashings of whipped cream.  The mobile coffee trailer in the ATASS Big Bank would not have come to their attention but they should have seen the Ambassadors handing out badges and balloons to young supporters outside the Centre Spot and Stagecoach stand.  They also missed the fact that the Centre Spot bar is open for both families and visiting supporters.  They went past, but did not comment on, the huge programme sale on the front terrace in St James Road on matchdays.  All attributes we need to signpost better next season.”

Exeter City Chairman Edward Chorlton OBE commented: “I am delighted that Exeter City have once again received this important endorsement as a family-friendly football club.  In particular I want to thank Richard Knight for leading the turnaround together with all those involved in looking after those attending games including the stewards and security staff, the gate and catering staff and the many volunteers involved on matchday.”

In that vein, special mention and due acknowledgement must be made to the season-long dedication and support of our touch point teams who made regaining the award possible – Ambassadors, Receptions, Stewards, Turnstile Operators, Ticket Booth, Retail and Catering.  It was a magnificent Team effort.

Full details of the reports will be published during the summer.

The winners of the overall award were Cardiff City’s full-time team under the professional tutelage and guidance of Julian Jenkins (Director of Marketing) and Tom Gorringe (Marketing Manager).

For next season Exeter City are looking for additional supporters to volunteer as Ambassadors to help raise our standards even higher.  Supporters who are prepared to help for the hour before matches meeting, greeting supporters and answering questions, either on a regular or ad-hoc basis, are asked to contact richard.knight@exetercityfc.co.uk.

To help next season’s efforts and reward the teams who have made a difference this year, sponsors of steward jackets, information kiosks and blazers for the Ambassadors/Receptionists would be warmly welcomed.

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