By club staff
Crewe Alexandra has been awarded 'The Football League Family Excellence Award' for the 2011/12 season.
Created in 2007, the Award is based on an independent assessment, commissioned by The Football League, of the family experience at all 72 League clubs during the 2011/12 season using 'mystery shopper' families and recognises the outstanding experience clubs provide for young fans and families at their grounds.
A record 50 clubs from across all three divisions of The Football League were given the Award for 2012 - topping the previous highest total of 47 - with nine clubs securing it for the fifth year running. A total of eight clubs also won the award for the first time this year.
In announcing the successful clubs, Football League Chairman, Greg Clarke, said: "The Football League Family Excellence Award provides clubs with a benchmark in their efforts to attract families through their gates.
"It is hugely encouraging to see that the number of clubs receiving the accolade is at its highest ever level, demonstrating The Football League's commitment to securing the next generation of fans."
With greater use of family areas and family pricing initiatives combining to attract more people to their first game, the 2011/12 season has seen an increasing focus on making the experience itself more compelling.
Initiatives such as dedicated family stadium entrances, specially trained family area receptionists, technology-supported entertainment and a comprehensive effort to rid family areas of abusive language and anti-social behaviour, have all combined to increase the benchmark.
The judges were particularly impressed with the efforts clubs are making to engage with families through matchday entertainment, refreshment facilities and mascot activities, all ensuring they can enjoy the match in a dedicated, safe, welcoming and entertaining environment.
The Football League also aims to give encouragement to those clubs that have not been successful this time around. Best practice guidance, feedback and training will be available to the remaining clubs to encourage their efforts towards achieving the mark next season.