Arsenal have been declared the Club of the Year, with reference to customer service, across all leagues in English football. The award is part of a new initiative - VisitFootball - taken by the Premier League, in collaboration with VisitEngland, a tourism board.
Clubs were monitored over a period of two years, with respect to the way they treat fans and other customers and industry experts have called their service "simply outstanding". Liverpool, Manchester City and London neighbours Fulham also won accolades.
"Their staff at every level from stewards to catering and cleaners to retail were very impressive. They clearly have a culture of high standards at Emirates Stadium and their professionalism shines through," was the verdict from the judges.
"We loved the stewarding at Liverpool because they clearly enjoy their job. There is a great rapport with the people they know but also an engagement for those who it might be their one and only Liverpool game of the season. Without doubt the warmest welcome we found in the Premier League was at Anfield," the judges continued, giving Brendan Rodgers' side the Warm Welcome award.
Meanwhile, the league champions were recognised for the City Square and Family Stand project and Fulham saw liaison officer Tommy Guthrie called an "Unsung Hero". Guthrie was praised for the level of commitment shown in welcoming foreign supporters.
"Going to visit people on matchday who have contacted him through the week to see if they're enjoying the game; taking foreign supporters clubs to a local pub in Fulham when they visit; organising fan forums in motorway service stations and city sight-seeing visits for fans at away games. He may see it as his job but the level of detail from Tommy is something that should be singled out and applauded," the judges said.
Holland Leaves Arsenal
There is some bad news for Gunners' fans though. Long-serving player and coach Pat Holland has left the club, the official Web site confirmed, citing personal reasons. Holland, 62, a former winger who played between 1969 and 1981 for West Ham United, was appointed coach for the Emirates club's U18 team in August. Holland's role will now be filled by an ex-Arsenal player - Steve Gatting - who played for the club between 1977 and 1981.