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Families are welcome at Luton Town

Hatters awarded family excellence award

The EFL Family Excellence Award winners have been announced for the 2016/17 season and a record breaking number of 51 clubs from across all three divisions in the EFL have been recognised – with Luton Town among them!

Created in 2007, the EFL Family Excellence Award recognises the outstanding experience provided by clubs for young fans and families, as well as their efforts to enhance the match day experience.

Happy Harry's Lunch BagThe Hatters were nominated for awards in two categories: 'The Welcome to the Club Award', particularly referencing the section on the official website giving 10 Quick Steps for the first time visitor to Kenilworth Road, and the 'Magic Moments Award', which included our Happy Harry lunch bags and the fact that one person each game from the bag sales is invited into the dug-outs during the players' warm-up.

Other initiatives that take place each matchday include mascots visiting the dressing room and having pictures taken with manager Nathan Jones, his staff and the squad (who often end up taking the selfies for the excited youngsters, as the pictures of Danny Hylton, Jack Marriott and James Justin show!) free face painting for junior supporters at the Kenilworth Road end of the ground, the Half-Time Hot-Shots competition on the pitch and, of course, being entertained by club mascots Happy Harry and Hatty!

James Justin meets a young fanHatters senior operations manager Kevan Platt attended the EFL Family Excellence event yesterday and he said: "Although we did not win any of the six mini awards, it was pleasing to be nominated in two categories with our efforts in making the matchday experience a welcoming and enjoyable one for youngsters and families at Kenilworth Road recognised by the judges.

"We know we are restricted at our current ground compared to what some clubs with more modern facilities can offer, and the proposed new stadium at Power Court will be a huge help in the future to making a day at Luton Town the complete package for all fans.

"We will be meeting once the season is over, however, to discuss ways in which we can continue to improve as we strive to top the table in family football terms, off the pitch while Nathan and the team provide entertainment on it."

Now in their 10th anniversary year, an unprecedented number of clubs have attained the Family Excellence Award for 2017, with a significant increase in the benchmark standard being applied by the judging panel. Four clubs – Cambridge United, Mansfield Town, Newport County and Aston Villa – have also received the accolade for the first time this season.

Players meet a young supporterMore than ever this year, EFL clubs are providing families with engaging and innovative matchday entertainment, as they continue to find new and unique ways to attract fans and their families to matches. Such experiences include high levels of ticket booking assistance for families, extensive pre-match advice, exciting entertainment both inside and outside stadiums, access to players, mascots and dedicated family zones and activities.

Over the past 10 years, more and more young people have made their way through the turnstiles in the EFL, with junior season ticket sales having increased by a staggering 37 per cent since 2007, and 20 per cent of all EFL club match attendees now under the age of 16.

Such evidence is a strong indication of a healthy future for football in this country according to Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive.

He said: "The EFL Family Excellence Awards have proven to be a fantastic vehicle for celebrating and highlighting the excellent progress that clubs are making in providing families with improved match day experiences.

"Now in their 10th year, the Awards have made a significant impact and this year's winners have once again shown how innovative thinking and a strong commitment can enhance the experience for both home and away.

Half time hot shots game has been a success

"I wish to congratulate each and every club who has been recognised for playing their part in continuing to attract a growing number of younger fans to the game in what is undoubtedly a valuable indication of a bright and healthy future for the EFL."

Over the past decade eight clubs have secured the award in every year they have been eligible to receive it; Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Cardiff City, Doncaster Rovers, Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town, Milton Keynes Dons and Reading.

The Award recipients are decided using independent assessments from real families, who make matchday visits across all 72 League clubs, during the 2016/17 season.

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.

Happy Harry and Hatty with Scott Cuthbert

The provision of informative, detailed pre-match information for families and first-time fans has also increased across League clubs, along with dedicated family stadium staff and specially trained family area 'greeters', and a comprehensive effort to rid family areas of abusive language and anti-social behaviour. These initiatives have all combined to again increase the benchmark this year.

The EFL also provides best practice guidance, benchmarking feedback and training for all clubs, to encourage them in their efforts towards achieving the mark next season.

Family fun days

For our match against Morecambe (2016-17) we invited a fantastic steel band along to the ground to entertain the crowds ahead of kick off. Games were held in front of the stadium, Harry and Hatty were on hand and artists from Luton Carnival Arts were also there with their incredible costumes.

There are more family fun days planned for 2017-18, so watch this space!