Updated: Sep 22, 2021
An amazing feature of non-league is clubs the offer to families that children are free on the gate. Across the country these children are typically alongside a paying adult. With clubs banking on those sales of burgers and drinks to drive up levels of income. But is your club missing a trick?
The aim of younger children coming into the club should not be primarily about the income, but creating a future fan (or even player) for the club and someone who wants to come each week. Creating that loyalty that is almost expected at non-league at older age groups.
At Frome Town, we worked with the board and the Youth Teams (Frome Town Robins) to look to increase the number of under 16s coming to each home game. The first sticking point was that often the children were anonymous to the club, with the parent paying cash and the child free of charge.
So, how could we create a scenario where we could capture the information to be able to communicate with the parents in the future and remind them to come more often. Whilst not putting them off coming or over-communicating to them.
The premise was to end the option of kids attending for free, and to replace this with a more effective solution. So the decision was to introduce an Under 16s Season Ticket for just £1, but more importantly an email address for each parent. The cost of an under 16 entry to the ground was uplifted to £2 per match, but with the alternative of buying a season ticket for £1 on the gate. Which saw the club secure nearly 70 emails of parents of match going children (average attendance at Frome is circa 300). As parent's would think I might as well pay the £1 as it's cheaper and I'm probably going to come back at least once this season. The numbers are stacked towards signing up. The emails captured on the gate or online were added to the club's email databases.
The children were given their own season ticket card that they could look after and show when they come to games, giving them the feeling of being more engaged in the club. Plus each week, the club were now able to advertise each match direct to these parents focusing on the elements that might encourage busy parents to come to more games. Often the feedback from parents was just forgetting about upcoming matches.
The changes have seen the amount of children attending Frome's matches double during the 20/21 season.
The next steps of continuing the involvement with these children was to implement a monthly Junior prize draw. Which see's one lucky winner each month, as the club now distributes a signed ball or T-shirt… or experience to the younger fans to keep the engagement high. So whilst Kids for Free is a great idea…is kids for £1 that little bit better?