Wigan Athletic had a season to forget on-the-pitch, but when it came to welcoming away supporters the Latics were rated the best “away fan experience”, according to a survey of travelling fans.
Thousands of supporters completed the Football Supporters’ Federation’s (FSF) Away Fans Survey, rating their away day out of 10.
Hull City’s score of 7.79 was the best in the top-flight, although it was bettered by two Championship sides – with Wigan Athletic scoring 7.83 and Derby County 7.82.
QPR’s miserable season wasn’t confined to the pitch as travelling fans scored their trip to Loftus Road a lowly 3.58. Crystal Palace limped to 4.94 while Liverpool completed the top-flight’s bottom three with 5.32. Blackpool (5.00) were rock bottom of the Championship.
The average travelling away fan rated their Championship experience at 6.56, higher than the Premier League average of 6.03. This compares to 2013-14’s national average of 6.44 and a Premier League average of 6.56.
Kevin Miles, chief executive of the FSF, said: “Away supporters are vital to the health of our game and football matches would be far poorer places without their presence. Football shouldn’t take them for granted.
“If a visitor comes to your home, you treat them well, yet we often hear from travelling fans who feel they’re treated as a problem, rather than as a valued guest. Whether it’s high prices or an unfriendly welcome, away supporters are often at the sharp end.
“We want to fix that, stand up for the travelling fan, and highlight those clubs who do it right. It’s in everyone’s interests, particularly in terms of atmosphere in the ground, to have healthy away attendances.”
The Away Fans Survey asked supporters to rate the ground they visited on things like transport links, turnstiles, stadium layout, food and drink, sightlines, safety and security. The survey also looked at the reasons why supporters choose to attend certain away matches.
What will come as a surprise to many is how few fans chose an away game because they thought their team would win – only 4% cited “likelihood of victory” as an important factor when deciding which games to attend.
Unsurprisingly, price of a match ticket was deemed “important” by 45% of respondents, as was day/time of kick off (53%) and distance of travel (52%). One in every three supporters (29%) considered whether friends/family were going as a significant pull factor.
This was the third year that the FSF have asked fans for feedback on their away match experience. The aim of the project is to improve the away fans’ experience and encourage more fans to travel to watch their team.
- 64% of fans rated the safety and security of away areas as either good or excellent; while only one in 10 fans rated them as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
- 53% of fans surveyed bought refreshments, but 34% did not think they were value for money, rating the price as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
- 36% of fans travelled to games by car; train/tube/metro was the next popular, accounting for 35% of travelling fans. 26% used buses or coaches.
- 29% of fans rated the comfort of away areas as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, 31% marked the comfort levels as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
- Just 13% rated pre-match and half-time entertainment as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
- Average rating across all four leagues is 6.26 – down from 6.44 last season.
- 3966 respondents across all divisions.
Combined Premier League and Championship results (marks out of 10):
- Wigan Athletic 7.83
- Derby County 7.82
- Hull City 7.79
- Brighton & HA 7.69
- Rotherham United 7.55
- Cardiff City 7.40
- Huddersfield Town 7.32
- Southampton 7.23
- Reading 7.23
- Stoke City 6.94
- Sunderland 6.93
- Fulham 6.86
- Watford 6.86
- Leicester City 6.84
- Arsenal 6.84
- Middlesbrough 6.74
- Swansea City 6.72
- Newcastle United 6.68
- Charlton Athletic 6.65
- WBA 6.63
- AFC Bournemouth 6.63
- Manchester City 6.53
- Blackburn Rovers 6.51
- Millwall 6.50
- Birmingham City 6.48
- Nottingham Forest 6.35
- Brentford 6.32
- Bolton Wanderers 6.31
- Spurs 6.11
- Ipswich Town 6.08
- Everton 5.80
- Burnley 5.76
- Wolves 5.70
- Aston Villa 5.69
- West Ham United 5.58
- Chelsea 5.52
- Manchester United 5.40
- Liverpool 5.32
- Leeds United 5.28
- Sheffield Wednesday 5.26
- Norwich City 5.09
- Blackpool 5.00
- Crystal Palace 4.94
- QPR 3.58
The FSF also surveyed fans in League One, League Two, and beyond. Although the datasets were not as comprehensive beyond the Championship, the FSF does have a great deal of qualitative data and anecdotal evidence it can share with clubs, SLOs, and affiliated/associated fan groups.
In addition, we are very keen to hear from fans and supporters' groups who would like to act as advocates at their club, helping promote the survey in order to increase the number of respondents throughout the league. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.