By Louise Drewery on 01 June 2018

Specialist events and hospitality teams from football and rugby stadia across the UK and Ireland have celebrated their ‘off the pitch’ successes at The Stadium Events & Hospitality Awards 2018 last night. The prestigious event, sponsored by Heineken was at the Amex Stadium, home to Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club.

The 350 guests, who work in conference and events, matchday hospitality, chef teams, public catering, operational departments and senior management, experienced a fine dining four course menu, awards ceremony and live entertainment, followed by an onsite after party until 4am.

The event was the 14th annual awards organised by Stadium Experience, and recognise the efforts and dedication shown by the catering, conference and events teams at every football and rugby stadium across the UK and Ireland. 70 football and rugby clubs were nominated for awards, with 25 different stadium venues scooping at least one of 39 gongs (across 13 categories). Some awards were entered by the club themselves and others by nominations from colleagues, media and visiting club directors.

For 2018, there were four new categories, and the introduction of a whole new panel of independent industry expert judges voting for the very best in the stadium venue industry. This year’s judges include HGEM and Salon Culinaire, as well as the new panel of senior representatives from arrangeMY, Conference News, The Change Group, FC Business, HBAA, Meetings Industry Association and Venue Smart.

The overall winner of the awards evening was Hull City Tigers, who scooped the top gong for Overall Matchday Hospitality Experience 2018, fighting off tough competition from 32 participating stadia across the leagues. The full list of 2018 award winners includes:

Non-Matchday Mystery Shopper Award – Sponsored by Taste Coffee

The Non-Matchday Mystery Shopper Award category is judged by HGEM in a mystery shopper style sales call.

WINNER – Southampton Football Club

SILVER – West Bromwich Albion Football Club

BRONZE – Aston Villa Football Club


*New for 2018* Best Digital Enquiry Award – Sponsored by Hi Impact Media

The Best Digital Enquiry Award category is judged by HGEM in a mystery shopper style email enquiry.

WINNER – Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club

SILVER – Chelsea Football Club

BRONZE – Hampden Park Stadium


Best Sales or Marketing Initiative Award – Sponsored by Oliver & Graimes

This award category aims to recognise the very best sales and marketing ideas created and introduced within any stadium team.  The judging panel specifically looked for brave new ideas which have led to increased support for stadium activities.

WINNER – Birmingham City Football Club

SILVER – Bristol City Football Club


Shining Star Award – Sponsored by Kingdom of Sweets

The Shining Star Award category aims to recognise those individuals who are simply outstanding at what they do, and continuously shine. This may be someone at the start of their career, making great strides in their roles, or someone in a more senior role leading the way in excellence.

WINNER – Emma Young – Southampton Football Club

SILVER – Max Hayward – Aston Villa Football Club

BRONZE – Wajdi Kalboussi – Manchester City Football Club


Operations Team of the Year Award – Sponsored by Kraft Heinz

The Operations Team of the Year Award aims to recognise the often unseen behind-the-scenes teams that make stadium events run so smoothly. The judging panel looked for teams going above and beyond the call of duty to provide the very best service to customers.

WINNER – Manchester City Football Club

SILVER – Leicester Tigers Rugby Club

BRONZE – Tottenham Hotspur Football Club


Chef Team of the Year Award – Sponsored by Piglets Pantry

This award is judged by Salon Culinaire chefs as part of the live kitchen event which took place at the Hospitality Show at ExCel, London. Chefs teams had one hour to prepare, cook and present a three-course menu suitable for their Club Chairman to entertain the Head of the FA or RFU to dinner.

WINNER – Liverpool Football Club

SILVER – Everton Football Club

BRONZE – Reading Football Club


*New for 2018* Best Stadium Events Venue Award – Sponsored by Conference News

The Best Stadium Events Venue Award aims to recognise the very best stadium events venue within the UK and Ireland. The judging panel specifically looked for a stadium venue which consistently displays exceptional venue facilities and outstanding guest experiences.

WINNER – Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club

SILVER – Chelsea Football Club

BRONZE – Southampton Football Club


*New for 2018* Visiting Directors Awards (Football & Rugby) – Sponsored by FC Business

The Visiting Directors Award categories are voted for by Directors at each club. They are asked to nominate the club where they had the best away experience when travelling with their team. They are specifically asked to consider the welcome, service and catering when casting their votes.

Rugby Award

WINNER – Worcester Warriors Rugby Club   

SILVER – London Irish Rugby Club

BRONZE – Leicester Tigers Rugby Club

BRONZE – Gloucester Rugby Club


Football Award

WINNER – Chelsea Football Club        

SILVER – Derby County Football Club

BRONZE – Wigan Athletic Football Club


Matchday Hospitality Award – Sponsored by Verteda

Reported by professional Salon Culinaire chef judges who experience hospitality at UK and Irish clubs this season using strict criteria. This is divided by size of hospitality offering with an award for:

Matchday Hospitality Award – Small Stadium (up to 1000 hospitality seats)

WINNER – Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club

SILVER – Heart of Midlothian Football Club

BRONZE – Ipswich Town Football Club


Matchday Hospitality Award – Medium Stadium (1001 – 2000 hospitality seats)

WINNER – Hull City Tigers

SILVER – Everton Football Club

BRONZE – Norwich City Football Club


Matchday Hospitality Award – Large Stadium (2001+ hospitality seats)

WINNER – Manchester City Football Club

SILVER – Newcastle United Football Club

BRONZE – Hampden Park Stadium


The Overall Matchday Hospitality Award

This award pitches all sized clubs against all, to announce the overall winning UK and Irish stadium.

WINNER – Hull City Tigers

SILVER – Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club

BRONZE – Everton Football Club

Stadium Experience Chair Person Collette Salmon, commented:

Every year we go all out to showcase that stadia across the UK and Ireland are at the top of their game when it comes to hospitality and events. Our members are always looking for the innovative ways to deliver and host a variety of customers from all over the world.  We strive to make it the best welcome and most enjoyable experience whether a business or leisure customer. Our consortium works hard behind the scenes so the customers have a fantastic experience.  This year we have engaged an independent panel from industry experts to judge our efforts, we will continue to benchmark ourselves and look for more ways to engage at a level second to none. We at Stadium Experience are proud to organise and host the annual Stadium Events and Hospitality Awards. Congratulations to all of tonight’s winners!

Jess Phippard from Halo Conference & Events at Southampton Football Club (Non-Matchday Mystery Shopper Award Winner) commented:

“We are incredibly proud & honoured to win such an award. We pride ourselves in our customer service & are so proud that this is showing this at it’s highest degree!”

Emma Young from Halo Conference & Events at Southampton Football Club (Shining Star Award Winner), added:

“I feel so proud to work for an organisation which values, supports & developes staff to their full potential. I would not be worthy of this award without the dedication from the team around me and thank them for their recognition.”

Kathy, Sarah, Rachael, Miriam & Olivia from the Sodexo Sales team at Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club (Best Digital Enquiry Award & Best Stadium Events Venue Award Winner), commented:

“We are so proud of our team. Delighted that we all worked so hard to get this award! And to get the ‘Best Stadium Events Venue’ award just goes to show how working as a united team pays off.”

Gus Mackay at Worcester Warriors Rugby Club (Visiting Directors Award – Rugby Winner), commented:

“Delighted to have won this award.  Credit and thanks to all the staff at the club who have worked hard and fully deserve this accolade.”

Chris Marshall at Liverpool Football Club (Chef Team of the Year Awards Winner), said:

“Massive congratulations to Joe and Danny, all the hard work paid off. Thrilled for them both.”

Chris Breverton at Birmingham City Football Club (Best Sales or Marketing Initiative Award Winner), said:

“Every one at BCFC are delighted to be recognised for the award. It’s been a fantastic year for the ‘Blues Network Business Club’ and we are so happy that the hard work by all has been awarded.”

Darren Beck & Helen Scott at Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club (Matchday Hospitality Award – Small Stadium Winner), said:

“We are obviously delighted with these awards. The club has put so much work behind the scenes & now the cub has had its best season in 20 years, so we are very much on the up – a club on the rise. Huge thanks in particular must go to Seymore Kurdi, Falcons chairman and Sharon Howey (head of commercial), who’s commitment to improving the club has been fantastic.”

Lynnsey Pilmer & Dan Coulson at Hull City Tigers (Matchday Hospitality Award – Medium Stadium, and Overall Matchday Hospitality Award Winner), commented:

“We are thrilled and over the moon to yet again win the double for such a prestigious award. A lot of hard work goes into this, every match. And to be rewarded is so amazing! Many thanks to all the winners.”

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