Arsenal have been named the ‘club of the year’ for providing the best customer service to fans under a new awards scheme being run by the Premier League and tourism board VisitEngland.
Clubs were monitored for customer service for the past two seasons. A panel of industry experts voted Arsenal the club of the year for their “simply outstanding service”.
The outstanding service included catering, and while I am delighted at anything that Arsenal is awarded, if the catering facility for regular fans in the upper tier is the best in the land, then the quality of the worst in the land must be very low.
This is not a beef about the quality of the food nor the price of the food and drink, but simply that the staff are not trained, despite years of complaint on this blog and many others. Not all staff know how to run the coffee machines, food is often not available, when food is short servers grab what does come through without any reference to who ordered first… it is a shambles.
But there are bits Arsenal do well – and of course I can’t compare them with other clubs since the only other club I visit as a home fan is Corby Town. But I would say that Arsenal’s handling of people who forget their tickets is good, entry into the stadium, even with just a few minutes to go is normally very easy, and the stewards are always polite to me.
My one big complaint this year has been about stewards doing nothing to stop obscene and anti-Semitic chanting around the family area. I wrote to the club and complained, and got a very quick and helpful reply.
Elsewhere, Man City received the ‘Best Fan Innovation’ awards for their City Square and Family Stand projects, while Liverpool’s stewards won the club the ‘warmest welcome’ award.
Fulham won the ‘unsung hero’ award for their supporter liaison officer Tommy Guthrie.
All 20 clubs were judged across eight areas including ticketing, stewarding, catering, toilets and the club shop.
The judges stated about Arsenal: “Their staff at every level from stewards to catering and cleaners to retail were very impressive. They clearly have a culture of high standards at Emirates Stadium and their professionalism shines through.”
Manchester City’s City Square and Family Stand, with giant TV screens and post-match player and legend appearances in City Square “are clearly a hit with the fans” said the judges.
On Liverpool’s stewards, the judges said: “We loved the stewarding at Liverpool because they clearly enjoy their job. There is a great rapport with the people they know but also an engagement for those who it might be their one and only Liverpool game of the season. Without doubt the warmest welcome we found in the Premier League was at Anfield.”
Guthrie was praised for his work at Fulham – including taking foreign supporters clubs to a local pub when they visit – with the judges saying: “He may see it as his job but the level of detail from Tommy is something that should be singled out and applauded.”
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said the improvements in the service for fans had been reflected by more women and families going to games.
Scudamore said: “A lot of effort has been put into making Premier League grounds more safe and welcoming over the last 20 years, which is why we have seen traditional fans being joined by more sections of society.
“Nearly a quarter of attending fans are women now, 13% of season ticket holders are children and overall 63% of supporters coming to a match do so with a family member.
“There are increased expectations among this more diverse audience and VisitFootball shows that the Premier League is taking customer care very seriously.”