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CLUB: United ranked seventh in League Two for family engagement on a match day

First mystery shopper results

22 December 2021

Club News

CLUB: United ranked seventh in League Two for family engagement on a match day

First mystery shopper results

22 December 2021

The club has received the results of the first visit of independent, mystery shoppers to assess our match day experience for families.

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Each year we have two unannounced visits and receive feedback, reports and recommendations on how to improve. 

We are benchmarked against others in League two and across the rest of the EFL.

The first visit has assessed us as being ranked at seventh of 24 in League Two and 28th of 72 in the EFL.  

The independent report concluded:

“In spite of the challenges of the post-Covid match day, once again Carlisle United provide plenty of evidence of a strong focus on attracting and retaining the next generation of fans … there was a strong community presence and family feeling at club, which is evidence by the family zone, engaging staff, updated social media presence, community events, excellent programme content, etc. Our assessments over recent seasons have uncovered a strong culture of engagement at the club which, right now, will serve their future well.” 

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Ticket office manager Louise Banks was singled out for her superb service.

“Louise advised there would be lots of activities for kids but with no players currently going in due to Covid. This was brilliant, and immediately set my expectations, giving me an idea of how to plan my day. I asked about parking, and Louise was again very clear about where to find this, and the cost." 

The new SLO team was also highlighted.

"There is a new SLO setup which was created in summer 2021, and offers more ‘meeters and greeters’, which was evident around the outside of the stadium."

There was praise for the Family Zone in the East Stand.

"There was a family zone consisting of craft areas, snooker table, table football, computers, soft-play and settees. [There was] one set of toilets asking to be kept empty ‘for our younger fans’, which I found very good."

The detailed scores in ten assessed key areas are as follows, with the comparison with League Two the wider EFL:


Chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “The independent report is an improvement, and very positive.

“It is testament to all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes off-the-field, week-in-week-out. 

“Of course, much of what fans see is just on the game day, but every single day the operations staff are contributing to improve and make the match day the best it can be. 

“That goes from the pre-match information and taking the first phone call to personal interaction with fans on the day.

“It is testament to the staff they continue to get on and perform at a high level compared with the rest of League Two, and even clubs in higher divisions in this area. It’s great for their effort to be recognised.  

“All this effort to go the extra mile can be easily overlooked given the stadium challenges, especially when results or other club issues are in the spotlight, and criticism then becomes the norm.

“That’s expected, but it means it is also easy for much of the good we do to be overshadowed.

“This is why independent benchmarking and balanced unbiased feedback is so valuable. Positive comment coming from these visits really helps boost morale. It is not about working hard, it is about actual achievement and what we do.

“The process is valuable as it gives recommendations and ideas and feedback to improve, as well as allowing us to see how we compare with other clubs. Our score has improved since 19/20 and we are always looking at ways to get better.”



The purpose of this first visit report is to help improve levels of family engagement at the club by providing detailed feedback on every element of the new family experience (from finding information to leaving your stadium after the match).

The report makes clear recommendations on what could be done to address any ‘gaps’ and strengthen the experience.

The report gives an overall score and individual scores for 10 specific areas (including friendliness and feeling valued).  

It includes a two-page summary of the touchpoints, with assessor feedback and recommendations for improvements. Scores from 2019/20 (when the programme was last run) are also shown to provide more context.

Also provided is a written summary of the detailed assessment report, as well as benchmarking (for 2021/22) and historical performance information.

If we achieve the required standards across the two visits, then we can be awarded the EFL Family Excellence Award.  

The club has achieved the Family Excellence Award in every year bar once, since it we established over a decade ago.

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