Liverpool has retained its title of offering the best fan experience in the English Premier League through the organisation’s annual VisitFootball Stadium Scheme awards.
Liverpool has been named Club of the Year, with the award meaning it is the fourth successive season that Anfield has been ranked first by assessors, who visit stadia to rate the experience for home and visiting supporters.
The VisitFootball standard has been developed by the Premier League in partnership with its clubs and LiveTourism. The scheme seeks to help clubs set benchmark standards for match experience from the perspective of home and visiting fans, supporters with specialist access requirements, and those in hospitality areas.
Liverpool came first across a number of categories – including home, visiting supporter and accessibility visits – to retain top spot for overall fan experience for the 2018-19 season. Anfield was also again recognised for providing the ‘Warmest Welcome’ to fans and visitors.
Katherine Allen, the Premier League’s head of policy and supporter relations, said: “VisitFootball helps to make our grounds vibrant, welcoming places to watch and enjoy football by providing advice and support on everything from ticket purchasing to stewarding and stadium facilities to entertainment.
“Many clubs are achieving higher scores, so we congratulate Liverpool on continuing to provide such a memorable match day and winning two categories this season.”
Peter Moore, chief executive of Liverpool, added: “Anfield is famous all over the world for its unrivalled atmosphere and exceptional matchday experience. We are extremely proud to be awarded Best Club for the fourth consecutive season.
“It is a fantastic achievement and is a real testament to all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes across the club, to deliver a truly memorable matchday experience that fans will never forget.”
Amongst other awards, Cardiff City was named Extra Mile winner, a special merit award given to a club which has adopted an innovative approach to enhancing its match days. Cardiff returns to the Championship in 2019-20 after one season back in the top flight, but the Premier League said assessors were impressed by the club’s thoughtful approach to prioritising the needs of fans in areas such as ticketing, staffing and stadium logistics.
The League cited the designated seating section at Cardiff City Stadium, which seeks to ensure visiting supporters always have the option of unrestricted seated views of the match. Cardiff City’s executive director and CEO, Ken Choo, said: “Irrespective of division, it’s our aim to continue building the matchday experience and improve every level of our fan engagement delivery.
“We’ll do that in the Championship this coming term and hope to take our unique matchday experience back to the Premier League in the near future.”
Watford won the award for best matchday hospitality for its offerings at Vicarage Road. Club chairman and CEO, Scott Duxbury, said: “It is one thing aiming to provide the highest standards possible at all times, yet for this to happen consistently under the spotlight of Premier League matchdays is an outstanding achievement.
“With new hospitality offerings opening for the forthcoming season, we’ll now enjoy the challenge of maintaining the highest of standards as we welcome more guests to Vicarage Road for a great Premier League experience with us.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan Waite won the Unsung Hero award for his efforts in aiding Tottenham Hotspur’s transition to its new stadium. Waite, who passed away in November, served as head of supporter services at Tottenham. He won the same award in 2015 and was instrumental in managing the relationship with fan groups as the club moved from White Hart Lane to its new stadium.
The Premier League has said that in future years the Unsung Hero award will be named in Waite’s honour.
Image: Premier League