Fan Experience

Charlton claims first with youth section at The Valley

Featured image credit: Charlton Athletic

Charlton Athletic has claimed a first by announcing that it will create a dedicated area in The Valley for fans aged 16 to 20, while the English League One football club has also said it will introduce safe standing to its stadium.

The Southeast London outfit has worked with Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust (CAST) to create the new arena in the Covered End West Quadrant with the aim of increasing younger fans’ engagement in the club and enjoyment on matchdays.

Supporters aged 16-20 will be able to purchase season tickets in the area for £125 (€146/$158), working out at £5.44 per game. The idea was developed after CAST board member, Sam White, travelled to Brussels for a Football Supporters Europe (FSE) youth working group.

At this gathering, Swedish representatives introduced the ‘Apberget’ section specifically for young supporters at Allsvenskan club Djurgården IF. Charlton said it now stands to be the first club in the UK, and first outside of Scandinavia, to establish this type of venture. 

“It’s been something I immediately wanted to get at The Valley,” said White. “In terms of fan engagement, and particularly youth engagement, it’s a huge opportunity for us to get a little community built within the fanbase and stadium but also offer a great experience.

“It’s the perfect lifecycle for young fans – you may start in the family section, before wanting to have more independence and being able to sit on your own in the new section before graduating to the Covered End or other areas in the stadium.”  

Initially aimed at the 16-20 age bracket, Charlton has ambitions to extend the scheme to younger fans over time. Meanwhile, Charlton has said it intends to introduce a safe standing section in the Covered End Upper of The Valley for the 2024-25 season.

Season tickets for next season are now on sale with nearly 1,000 tickets available in the area at the back of the Covered End Upper set to be designated for safe standing. These seats are the back eight rows of the stand.

Charlton said it has worked closely with CAST and the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) to identify an area suitable for safe standing and the intention is for the appropriate changes to be made over the summer in time for the section to be in place for the start of the 2024-25 season.

Earlier this week, Championship club Sunderland AFC announced details of the biggest investment in the Stadium of Light for more than two decades, including the introduction of safe standing at the venue.

Norwich City last month became the latest English football club to announce it will adapt its stadium to incorporate safe standing, while there has been similar news this year from the likes of SouthamptonLuton Town and AFC Bournemouth.

Charlton was the subject of a takeover by the Global Football Partners (GFP) group in July, with the youth zone and safe standing one of a number of announcements made by the new owners yesterday (Thursday) as they reflected on their initial period at the helm.

The Charlton board has engaged with stadium design and architecture consultancy Trivandi to put in place a rolling series of improvements to the matchday experience at The Valley. The first such improvements will be the installation of safe standing and the construction of a Fan Zone outside the stadium.