A number of Clubs picked up awards at this evening’s EFL Awards 2023.
EFL Innovation Award
A brand-new accolade for 2022/23, Norwich City claimed the EFL Innovation Award for their ‘Not Just Another Kit launch’; after uncovering that the average age group most likely to commit suicide was males aged between 45-49, the Canaries used their annual kit launch to raise awaraness of the topic.
Fronted by famous Norwich fan actor Stephen Fry, a short film revealed the shocking statistics, before Club released four more videos telling the hugely emotive and impactful personal stories of those who have each been affected by suicide. The campaign videos received over 700,000 views across social media platforms.
“Football can be a very finite game, win lose or draw,” said Sam Jeffrey, Norrwich City’s Commercial Director. “Our infinite purpose is to make our community and our Club better every single day. The kit launch is the most viewed piece of content and the maximum number of eyeball on our channels. Instead of launching a kit we will launch the campaign around suicide prevention, and it was an incredible success.”
EFL Fan Engagement Award
In 2021, for the first time in the club’s history, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bolton Wanderers and the Bolton Wanderers Supporters’ Trust. The relationship acted as a springboard for a partnership that has grown, developed relationships and produced positive results, influencing club strategy, ideas, campaigns, and capital projects.
Most importantly, regular bi-weekly meetings were put in place with senior Club staff including CEO Neil Hart, First Team Manager Ian Evatt and leading members of the Supporters’ Trust, to shape a better future for Bolton Wanderers.
“It is something that has never been done before at Bolton Wanderers,” said Neil Hart, the Club’s CEO. “We tried before but when we got the new owners and the new CEO everything took off.”
Supporter of the Season
Les Miller (Luton Town)
Luton Town suppporter Les Miller helped to set up Luton Town Supporters’ Trust which was formed to save the club 20 years ago. He was also integral to the formation of the Bobbers Travel Club set up in 1979 and to this day, organises travel for all Luton Town fans home and away, providing a vital service to Hatters fans.
During the 2021/2022 campaign – the first full season following the COVID pandemic – the Club hired around 40 coaches, increasing its membership by nearly 120 people, travelling nearly 8,000 miles on an average term.
“It’s a great honour to be nominated but to win it against the other competition is great,” he said. “I’ve had lots of different roles within the Club. And there’s certainly a lot of work to do if we do get to the Premier League with organising coaches!”
EFL Green Club Award
A project launched last year, Bristol City are only one of four EFL clubs participating in the UN Sports for Cli-mate Action framework ‘Race to Zero’ as part of Project Whitebeam. Actions include giving unsold matchday food to a homeless shelter, measures to tackle fuel, water and plastic usage and innovative support for sustainable travel.
Through the programme, the Robins have donated unsold matchday food to a homeless shelter, measures to tackle fuel, water and plastic usage and innovative support for sustainable travel.
“It’s a global issue but it also has real benefits to us as a Club and the local community,” continued Peter Smith, Head of Sustainability and Change at Bristol City. “There is a lot of work to do; we are not there yet and we are just really encourage that our peers at Reading at Northampton and other Clubs that have done some real innovative work in this area.”
EFL Diversity Award
Middlesbrough’s Dementia Project has seen the Club run a number of programmes to support people living with dementia including visits to the stadium, supporting families and visits to care homes along with dedicated disability match days.
Helena Bowman, Head of Business Operations and Community at Boro, said: “One of our former players, Alan Peacock, was diagnosed with Dementia in 2018 and on the back of that we realised how many people it touched, how many staff and fans it affected and that is where it stemmed from.”
EFL Club Employee Award
John Clarke (Burton Albion)
Despite suffering with quadriplegic cerebral palsy his entire life, requiring the use of a wheelchair and assistance from a carer for daily life tasks, Burton Albion supporter John Clarke hasn’t let that stop him from achieving his goals
In July 2022, the lifelong Brewers fan – a season ticket holder of 12 years – opted to take on a voluntary role at the Club.
Taking on a variety of responsibilities across all age groups, from assisting coaches at training to working in player care and life skills, John has become an invaluable part of the staffing set-up at the Burton Albion Academy.
“It means everything,” he said. “Football is about the difference it can make to everybody. The work I do at the academy shows the difference that EFL Clubs can make.”