Above - Tony Cottee says Away Fans Matter! (Viewing on mobile/tablet? Try this link.)
Away Fans Matter. Three little words but it’s something we’re happy to bang the drum about as travelling supporters are vital to the health of our game. Without away fans, stadiums can be far quieter, less vibrant places.
They bring noise and colour to grounds and often spark the home support into life, generating the atmosphere that appeals to TV audiences around the world. Without away fans we believe football would struggle to bring in these mega media deals; clubs would lose millions each.
Yet there are many obstacles in place for away fans - ridiculous ticket prices, rising costs of travel, TV messing about with fixtures, worst seats in the house, unfriendly stewarding, police interference with KO times and “bubble matches”. Travelling supporters are often at the sharp end – but solve their problems and the benefits will often flow towards home fans too.
Away Fans Matter covers our work across many different areas to improve the match day experience for away fans.
Away Fans Survey
The Away Fans Survey gives supporters the opportunity to feedback away day experiences with ultimate aim being to improve matchdays and increase travelling support. The data allows us to make arguments to clubs/leagues about what works for away fans – all backed up with reams of statistical evidence. All clubs are offered the opportunity to see anonymised survey results relating to their stadium. We encourage all fans to complete the survey and would love to hear from fans who’d like to be club advocates by encouraging fellow fans to complete the survey after every away day.
Away Day of the Year
At the annual FSF awards we recognise those clubs that are most welcoming to away fans. We shortlist the six most popular destinations for away fans using data from our Away Fans Survey, with the winner decided by an FSF judging panel. Since its inception the Away Day of the Year has gone to Arsenal (2013), Cardiff City (2014), Wigan Athletic (2015) and Rotherham United (2016).
Rotherham United Chief Operating Officer Paul Douglas said: "As a club, we aim to make AESSEAL New York Stadium an environment that everyone can enjoy and it’s brilliant to see that people in the football world are appreciating our matchday experience.
"A lot of hard work and thought went into how we were going to accommodate away supporters when we built the stadium and since then we have implemented a number of ideas and initiatives which has resulted in our winning this prestigious award."
EFL: Away Fans Excellence
Following on from the sucess of its Family Excellence awards the English Football League (EFL) is applying the formula to away fans across the competition.
The league body hopes to improve away ends across the country by reviewing how all its member clubs provide for and welcome away fans. With our help, genuine away fans will be carrying out "mystery shops" on their away days across the 2016/17 season. The best performing clubs will be recognised by the EFL and good practice will be shared. This way the bar can be raised each year to achieve a cultural shift that will hopefully see improvements to the match-day experience for travelling fans.
FSF deputy chief executive David Rose said: "The genius of the initiative is how it transcends the varying resources of the clubs in the EFL. You can find well-financed Championship clubs picking up ideas from less affluent League Two outfits."