Fife Flyers fans’ views revealed in first ever league wide survey

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A first ever survey of ice hockey supporters has revealed that Fife Flyers has one of the older fan bases in the Elite League - and their number one priority was making the play-offs.

The findings were released by the EIHL today after conducting the research which spanned a number of topics. The survey generated almost 7000 responses and was designed to get feedback on the sport, and build up a picture of who exactly makes up the fan base at each of the ten top flight clubs across the UK.

The average age of an Elite League fan is 38 years old, with 58.1% of those responding being male, and 40.8% female. Over half of the respondents are married, or in a relationship.

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Statistically, the youngest fanbase is Belfast Giants, followed by Dundee Stars and Manchester Storm. Flyers, Nottingham Panthers - two of the country’s longest established clubs -and Guildford Flames are the oldest.

Fife Flyers fans in full voice at the Challenge Cup final (Pic: Derek Young)Fife Flyers fans in full voice at the Challenge Cup final (Pic: Derek Young)
Fife Flyers fans in full voice at the Challenge Cup final (Pic: Derek Young)

In general, 54% were season ticket holders, and 46% were not - the biggest reason for not buying one was not seeing enough games, although the vast majority attend almost every home game. As for the sport, fans gave the thumbs up to the play-off finals weekend, highly value the league’s Pride games and feel that ensuring EIHL arenas are a safe space for all fans is something to be proud of. League and team social media, and a family-friendly atmosphere at games, were also highlighted as positives.

It will come as no surprise that the biggest complaint centred on the format of the Challenge Cup. This out-ranked both wanting teams to show greater professionalism and the level of officiating in the league, which were the next two highest points of negative feedback.

Belfast had the best pre-game show, and atmosphere, and the highest rating for seating and general arena/rink facilities.

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Fife Ice Arena had the highest satisfaction rating for the selection of food and drink on game nights, while Belfast and Sheffield fans were the most satisfied with their teams' selection of merchandise.

In general, fans prefer games to be played on Saturday and Sunday, but nine of 10 teams' fanbases also scored playing on Friday nights. No-one rated midweek hockey.

On the subject of the number of non-homegrown players in the Elite League, 36.2% of fans said it was about right, while 31.3% answered that it didn't matter. A further 17.8% said the number was too low, while 14.7% answered that it was too high.

Mike Hicks, head of hockey operations, said: "The survey has given us us a wealth of insights into the demographics, behaviours, and preferences of our fan base and, in terms of off-ice initiatives, is probably one of the most important things we have done in a long time.

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“For the league, and individual teams, there is a lot of information within the survey that can only be useful as we move forward. It's important to recognise that the information we have received in some areas might not necessarily result in overnight fixes, but are things we can work on and towards over a number of years.

The data will now go to the league’s new commercial manager who is due to take up his role in August.