Everton today kicked off ‘Junior Fan Week’ – a week of activity to recognise and celebrate young Toffees and their contribution to the Club.
Throughout the course of the next eight days, a group of Everton’s Junior fans will go behind-the-scenes at the Club to interview players, get an insight into Everton’s potential new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, understand some of Everton in the Community’s work, and assist with key matchday roles for Everton's game against Newcastle United at Goodison Park on Monday 23 April.
The week of activity is not just about those Junior fans who will be involved in those events, though. There are a number of ways in which young Toffees can get involved in Junior Fan Week, including taking advantage of FREE after-school stadium tours and a whole host of activities ahead the clash against the Magpies.
Junior fans make up a significant proportion of Everton's matchday support, with one in five Season Ticket Members at Goodison Park aged 18 and under - a ratio that is set to continue, with more than 90 per cent of junior fans returning next season.
The number of junior match-going Everton fans significantly betters the Premier League average of one in eight - and is no doubt the result of a number of Club initiatives.
Everton’s graded Season Ticket pricing structure - that includes a kid’s (Under-11s) ticket for £95 - makes bringing children to the game affordable.
Over the past three seasons, more than 3,800 Under 18s have become new Season Ticket Members. This campaign, more than 5,900 Season Ticket Members under the age of 18 have attended a match at Goodison Park for less than £8 per game - with 39 per cent of that total aged Under-11 and paying only £5 a game.
A large portion of these junior fans are also the recipients of special Everton experiences. More than 1,000 children followed in the footsteps of their heroes by stepping out onto the pitch at Goodison Park or USM Finch Farm for training sessions with Everton coaches. Meanwhile, all Under-11 first-time Season Ticket Members have been given the opportunity to experience a very special ‘My Debut’ welcome to Goodison Park that includes an Everton goody bag, certificate, pitchside photograph and shout-out by the stadium announcer ahead of kick-off.
The Club also provides safe environments for young people to socialise with their fellow fans. The School Supporters’ Clubs was launched at the beginning of the 2015/16 season to encourage young Evertonians to come together and build a relationship with the Club through their schools. The network has grown to 114 schools in the space of three years, with schools located from Netherton to New York. Everton in the Community (EitC) programmes such as the EitC Youth Zone also offers young local fans the chance to play in a safe and nurturing environment and meet like-minded young Evertonians.
Some of the young fans taking part in the activity this week have come from the Everton Junior Fans’ Forum. In 2013, the Club became the first in the country to set up such an initiative, providing an avenue for young Blues to raise important issues that relate to them. The group of 10 Evertonians, aged 11 to 16, meets with the Club regularly and helps to influence Everton’s activity for junior fans by acting as the voice of their generation.
Scott McLeod, Head of Engagement at Everton, said: “Everton is a Club built on uniquely strong bonds with its fanbase and our young fans are the future. We have more young Blues engaging with the football club than ever before.
“With sell-outs at Goodison Park and record Season Ticket numbers over the past couple of years, our engagement with young Evertonians takes place through our school Supporters' Clubs, online and on a matchday.
“During Junior Fan Week, young Evertonians will get to deliver Everton content aimed at their generation by going behind-the-scenes at the stadium and the training ground. We’ll also be opening up the doors of Goodison Park to Junior Evertonians for free after-school stadium tours. Everyone remembers their first visit to Goodison Park and this is a great opportunity four young fans to see the changing rooms, walk out of the tunnel and stand pitchside.”
‘Junior Fan Week’ will be celebrated across Everton channels from Monday 16 April until Everton’s home fixture against Newcastle United on Monday 23 April.