Last season the Football Supporters’ Federation launched the Away Fans Feedback Project - an ambitious project which aims to measure the experience of the travelling fan.
The survey will run again throughout 2013/14 so, if you go to away games, please bookmark this link and fill the survey in post-match – whether that’s in the pub straight after the game or when you’re bored at your desk on Monday morning, it doesn’t matter.
The ultimate aim is to improve the away fans' experience and encourage more fans to travel to watch their team. What keeps fans committed to travelling and to the sacrifices they make? What do we look for as a travelling fan? Likes? Dislikes? What makes you feel valued?
Fans can score their experiences allowing the FSF to build a data set which can be used to accurately assess the facilities, customer service and elements of policing and stewarding at as many grounds as possible, using established customer service methods.
What did the 2012-13 results tell us?
- The most important reasons for travelling to an away game were: 1. Time/day of kick off; 2. Price of ticket; 3. Distance/cost of travel. One in five said they attend every away game regardless while one in three based attendance on whether friends/family were going.
- Somewhat surprisingly the least important reasons for travel were the expectations of a win and the level of opposition (i.e. people were not concerned about whether they were travelling to see a “big” club).
- More fans who completed the survey travel to games by train (37%) than any other method. 31% travel by car while 13% use private coaches and 11% travel on the official club coach.
- Do fans buy refreshments in stadiums? There was a near 50/50 split on this with 49% saying yes and 51% saying no. Of those who said they did buy a refreshment 51% bought an alcoholic drink and 44% a hot snack. Who said a pie and a pint was going out of fashion?
- Generally speaking most fans rated queue lengths, and quality/choice of food and drink as adequate to good. Pricing of food split opinion with 39% rating it “adequate” while 41% rated it poor or very poor.
Last season’s results provide a starting point for the FSF to use when speaking to the authorities but it is just that, a starting point.
The Away Fans Feedback Project 2012-13 was given a “soft” launch as discoveries were made about what worked and what didn’t.
For instance, initially only Premier League and Championship clubs were included as it was felt it would be difficult to get statistically significant numbers of fans lower down the pyramid filling in the survey.
However, feedback from fans indicated those at all levels, to the Conference North/South and beyond, were keen to have the opportunity to feedback on their experience.
With that in mind the survey has been restructured so that any away fan at any game, whatever the level, can complete the survey.
Away fan importance
In the past home clubs have sometimes forgotten the specific needs of the away fan, who can be at the sharp end of pricing, policing and customer care. But football is now waking up to the importance of the away fan to its own health and vitality.
“Keeping away attendances high is our most strategically important thing just now,” says Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore. The Premier League has recently changed its clubs ticketing rules to encourage more away fans.
The FSF has been banging about the needs of away fans for years and it's very encouraging that the game is now listening - it’s a great time for away fans to effect change.
Last year 1000s of fans completed the survey and it’s hoped that many more again will do so in the year ahead. The FSF will be promoting this throughout 2013/14, so stay tuned and please do your bit to help football understand the experience of the away fan.