The attitude of football club staff and volunteers is the most important factor in creating a positive match day experience, according to a survey of supporters in the Toolstation Western League. The fan survey, undertaken by Bath based Cognisant Research at the end of the 2021/22 season, was commissioned by the Western League Board to understand more about supporter’s match day experience and how they access information about their Club. The research is intended to help the League improve the match day experience, as well as encouraging more supporters into Clubs in the future.
Working with the League, Cognisant Research produced an online survey that ran between May 25th and June 8th 2022, achieving 314 completed responses. Unsurprisingly, the respondents were overwhelmingly male, with just over seventy percent aged 45 and over. These supporters were also very loyal, with just over sixty percent watching 16 games or more, last season.
In terms of the match day experience, just over three quarters of supporters rated their Club as either Good or Very Good. This is a well-deserved pat on the back for Club volunteers who’ve struggled with two seasons that couldn’t be completed, not to mention the challenge of making their grounds and clubhouses Covid safe. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, with over eighty percent of supporters highlighting the important contribution Club officials can make in delivering a positive match day experience to fans.
Given the current cost of living crisis, Clubs should take comfort that over two thirds of the fans replying to survey said the cost of a ticket was not an important factor in influencing their decision to attend a game. The availability of parking and good quality food and drink were also highly rated by fans, sending a message to Clubs that it was the quality of food and drink rather than price that was most important to them. Match programmes were also considered in the research, with over two thirds of fans indicating that they are still interested in buying a paper version.
The survey also asked fans about where they looked for information about their Club and social media topped the poll at 86%. However, what is more surprising is that Club websites were also heavily identified, with 71% of fans still refereeing back to their Club websites for match reports, fixtures and statistical information about their Club.
Whilst there is much for Western League Clubs to celebrate in these results, there is always room for improvement, particularly when it comes to appealing to a new generation of supporters. Younger supporters in particular identified Western League matches as an opportunity to socialise with friends and family. The fact that so few woman appear to follow the League, highlights an opportunity for Clubs to target the family market, encouraging younger men and women into Clubs with the offer of a far more affordable match day experience than they would find following a professional Club. A presentation of the research results can be found here.