Sheffield United is joining with all other EFL clubs across the country, in reinforcing a league-wide commitment to saying no to bad language and aggressive behaviour in family areas on matchdays, making the matchday experience more enjoyable for all.
Junior and family attendances across the EFL has risen significantly over recent seasons, a ringing endorsement of clubs' extensive work to reach out, attract and engage with families. Supporting all of this work is the EFL's Enjoy the Match Campaign, an initiative that for many seasons has helped clubs to promote a zero-tolerance policy on anti-social behaviour in family areas.
The Enjoy the Match campaign can be seen across all EFL league stadia and, alongside the EFL's Family Excellence Awards Scheme, it plays a crucial role in helping clubs to attract families and young supporters to EFL matches.
Here at United we want our fans to feel safe and part of a vibrant exciting matchday experience. We ask all supporters to encourage the players, respect the match officials and help to create a great atmosphere inside Bramall Lane.
The club have made a concerted effort to improve the fan experience at Bramall Lane, including such as new shelving inserted across the concourses and the refurbishment of many of the catering kiosks. On matchdays in the Family Stand we take a couple of injured/suspended players to meet supporters pre match in front of the 'selfies' backdrop, whilst families can enjoy the new 'traditional sweetshop' that the club have built or buy drinks from the Real Ale Bar, installed during the close season. We also produce a fun written Family Quiz each game that families enjoy participating in. This is especially popular on the Family Stand, but is also available from the Ticket Office and Club Shop, with the prize for the winning family being the chance to meet first team players.
Captain Blade enjoys a great rapport with supporters across all stands and in association with members of the Sheffield United Community Foundation, he mingles with Blades fans, who enjoy spending time with the famous Club Mascot, before taking part in half time activities on the pitch, delivered by the Community Foundation.
The club have a team of Supporter Liaison Officers who mingle with fellow fans across all four sides of the stadium and they provide a direct line of communication to and from the club for fans - a scheme which has proved extremely effective. The club have devised a 'Do You Have Feedback' scheme this season, with leaflets and contact details on all concourses - all aimed at improving the fan and indeed family experience.
Dave McCarthy, Operations Director at United said: "We want our fans to have the best possible experience on a matchday and leave smiling no matter the result. It is important that our supporters feel able to report any instances of anti-social behaviour that they witness on matchdays so we can take any necessary action as required. The Enjoy the Match campaign provides supporters with the opportunity to raise any issues with the club in confidence.
"We run a series of initiatives throughout the season that allow us to engage with families, school children and parents alike. When we run these initiatives we see a significant increase in matchday ticket sales in our family area and it is down to us to do enough to make sure they come back. We want to do all we can to make their experience a better one.
"We are building a fan base for the future and it will always be our aim to make our fans proud of the Blades."
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey said, "So many of our clubs are now displaying innovative and engaging ways in which they are interacting with families and junior fans. There has never been a better time to visit your local EFL club on a matchday, and enjoy the sorts of entertainment clubs are now providing to ensure the experience stretches well beyond the ninety minutes on the pitch.
"The new club-branded Enjoy the Match campaign materials are another vital cog in the wheel to ensure that the hard work being undertaken by clubs in providing such experiences, are not undermined by unwanted anti-social behaviour in family areas. Clubs are vigilant in this area and need fans' support to ensure everyone attending can Enjoy the Match."