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Why Watford are table toppers

When it comes to a matchday experience there's no beating them

The Premiership may be about to kick-off at Anfield tomorrow night, but one league table has already been finalised – and Watford are at the top of it!

In the field of matchday catering and hospitality the club’s Hornets Hospitality operation at Vicarage Road is the best in football according to VisitFootball, a link-up between the Premier League and the national tourism board, VisitEngland.

Sure, it’s not on a par with winning the Premier League on the pitch, but for those who look for more than just 90 minutes of football on matchdays it must be nice to know that nobody does it better on the catering front! 

VisitFootball, which is completely independent, announced the Watford FC matchday offering as the best in football and crowned them top of the league, beating off stiff competition from other top clubs within the M25 such as Arsenal and Chelsea. We don’t know if Spurs’ new ground was open in time to be considered.

By sending along ‘mystery shoppers’ VisitFootball has been assessing the welcome and overall experience that fans and guests receive at football grounds – all 20 Premier League Clubs are automatically entered. It has awarded those clubs who deliver outstanding customer service every season since 2010. 

The awards encourage best practice and so Premier League clubs work harder to ensure the fans feel welcome.

The team at VisitFootball assess the whole of the hospitality function – the entire journey – everything from the website and email comms, a first booking phone call to the experience on the day itself.  

The assessment team considers literally everything: stadium signage, cleanliness, friendliness of staff, the welcome and, of course, the food, drink and service. The process is rigorous and nothing goes unnoticed.

What made Watford FC’s hospitality stand out?

Watford claims the absolute best pitch views in the Premier League from the majority of its hospitality suites. The restaurants have stunning panoramic views aided by floor-to-ceiling windows. There are numerous restaurant options on site including The Gallery which opened three years ago and follows a format much like a restaurant, boasting an evolving seasonal a la carte menu which isn’t the norm at football stadiums.

There is a variety of dining options: 

  • The Gallery and Carbon offering a five choice a la carte menu
  • Grazing style in The View
  • A carvery in the Sir Elton John Suite (above)
  • Brand new for the 2019/20 season is a steak house in The Grill (main picture) and Horizons (below), offering authentic street food 

The fans’ experience is key for Watford. They believe in keeping it personal. Many of the larger stadium catering teams worry more about the financials and the bottom line, not the customer experience, the club claims.

If this wasn’t enough, the club also boasts a head chef, Stephen Cummings, who has cooked for US presidents and various members of the UN.  When the kitchen team is led by a chef of that stature the quality and service is going to be hard to beat. 

Watford host Brighton on Saturday in the season-opener, 3pm kick-off.

If you want to know more about the ground’s hospitality offering you can ring 01923 496006 or email sales@watfordfc.com

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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