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Shedpool

Market Research - stadium catering and refreshment kiosks

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Hi All,

I am new to the forum and was hoping to tap into the readers / posters to gather some market research data on the subject of catering facilities at football stadiums in Scotland.  I want to hear about your experiences if possible - both good and bad.  It would be good to hear about issues such as the following:

  1. Quality of food
  2. Time spent queuing at stadium kiosks
  3. Availability of menu offerings
  4. Pricing
  5. What could be done on the whole to improve match-day catering in Scotland?

If you are happy to provide an answer and share your experiences, please can you include which team you support and which ground you had your good/bad experience at (if different to your home team).

Many thanks in advance

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Having been to well over a hundred Scottish grounds, and being somewhat an aficionado of the pastry, this is right up my street.

First observation is that, in general, the smaller the crowds the better the catering. The main reason for this is that big clubs generally contract a catering company like Sodexho or someone even worse; smaller clubs will generally have an arrangement with the local butcher or baker. In many parts of Scotland that means properly excellent, often prize-winning pies. 

So at best you get World Champion pies at Coupar Angus FC, in front of a crowd of two dozen; while at Hearts last month I had a bloody awful pie with some sort of weird tube thing in it (see pic). In general the best pies are in Ayrshire, and the Buffs Pie is a stupidly delicious thing. Some sell the famed Killie Pie, which tbh isn't as good as the pies most non-league clubs sell week in, week out. Many clubs sell what you could genuinely call gourmet pies, with haggis creeping in to many, much to my delight.

My other main observation is drinks. Charging £2, £2.50 for a cup of postmix is shocking. A few times at bigger clubs I've bought food and asked for a cup of water, which they refuse to do. At grounds not covered by the Safety at Sports Grounds Act you can buy cans and plastic bottles of juice, generally at the same prices you'd find in a local newsagent, and it's much more civilised. Being searched on the way into a ground to make sure you're not carrying a bottle of diet coke is pretty pathetic, and it makes me want to buy their warm, syrupy, flat postmix shite even less.

In my ideal football ground the food kiosk is like this:

  • You can watch the game in real time while you're queuing, either directly or on a TV screen (with no delay, as some have)
  • The queue is under cover, and there's somewhere to eat under cover too.
  • The queue prevents skipping and you don't have to guess where to stand
  • I'll pay up to £1.80 for a mince pie, £2.50 for a GOOD steak pie and £2 for chips, but generally expect to pay less
  • Drinks should be no more than £1.50, tea should be £1, and it should be possible to get water for free (or a nominal 10p for the cup). And juice should be cold!
  • Where at all possible food should be supplied by local firms with good reputations - more hassle, but definitely better quality. Mass catering firms can feck off.
  • Would it kill them to have something gluten free?
  • There should be a shelf against the wall and round pillars so that you're not trying to hold food and drink at the same time.
  • There should be recycling facilities for rubbish - a set of bins like you get at a train station would be fine

I don't know anywhere with all of that.

A few favourites... the Buffs Pie at Kilwinning Rangers is unacceptable delicious... At Cumbernauld you can buy a range of herbal teas... the home baking (scones with jam and cream!) at Edinburgh Uni... the expensive but so good it can replace your dinner chicken burger at Cove (provided by local restaurant So...) ... the one-pound pie at Clydebank/Yoker... and it's hard to beat the Oliphant's pies at my home club, Linlithgow Rose.

 

IMG_20180814_190857425.thumb.jpg.fab35ea791674e4500313e980bc277bc.jpg

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So many clubs take the piss.

Last two (well, only two) times I was at Cliftonhill (Albion Rovers, and this was in 2015) the catering was hot dogs they'd bought from Asda just down the road. They didn't even try to hide it.

At Tannadice you can't get a cup of water. You have to pay £1.80 for a bottle that they pour in to a cup (so you can't take it away if you don't want to finish it all).

Many clubs buy 2L bottles of Coke/Diet Coke and Irn Bru/Diet Irn Bru and charge you over £1 for a small polystyrene cup of it.

The range is almost always poor. It's pretty much pies in most grounds, with perhaps a sausage roll option. Obviously there are some exceptions (such as Elgin and Queen of the South) but how hard would it be to have sandwiches or pizza slices? Not hard and not expensive as I've prepared such things before (not for the football mind). Soup is surprisingly rare, although Brechin do some lovely stuff. I also can't think of a single Scottish ground that sells fruit. All snack options are crisps (a couple of flavours at best), chocolate, sweets (usually Starburst) or doughnuts. Stenhousemuir do have a nice wee selection of crisps and sweets though.

I do like to see when teams use local firms. Stephens at East End is a good example, with the mighty steak bridie rightly famed. They're usually much better quality as the poster above mentions.

Forfar bridies are shite mind. Biggest culinary disappointment of my life. Seemingly the ones at the ground aren't done the firm in the town who do the more famed product.

In terms of queuing, I usually go get food and drinks (plural because I wear my voice out a lot and I don't want to go back so get one for the second half as well) around 20 minutes to 25 minutes after a game has started. Queues at half time are always dreadful and you run the risk of missing out on items if they're sold out. In 28 years of going to games I've only ever missed 3 goals to this tactic. It's also shite that kiosks seem to shut about 20 minutes in to the second half in most grounds, another reason to go when I do. This is of course rubbish if you want a drink in the second half.

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54 minutes ago, DA Baracus said:

At Tannadice you can't get a cup of water. You have to pay £1.80 for a bottle that they pour in to a cup (so you can't take it away if you don't want to finish it all).

 

Soup is surprisingly rare, although Brechin do some lovely stuff. I also can't think of a single Scottish ground that sells fruit. 

 

It's also shite that kiosks seem to shut about 20 minutes in to the second half in most grounds, another reason to go when I do. This is of course rubbish if you want a drink in the second half.

Yeah, Tannadice is one of the places I've tried and failed to get a cup of water. It's the norm at the full time clubs.

At East Kilbride for the women's Old Firm game on Sunday, they had soup and... pears! I think it's the first time I've ever seen fruit on sale in a football ground. Odd choice though, I wondered if they'd just taken them from nearby trees.

The stall at Linlithgow Rose stays open almost until full time. On very cold days this has caused me to partake of the dreaded third pie. Very handy for a warming tea or hot chocolate though.

 

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Yeah, Tannadice is one of the places I've tried and failed to get a cup of water. It's the norm at the full time clubs.
At East Kilbride for the women's Old Firm game on Sunday, they had soup and... pears! I think it's the first time I've ever seen fruit on sale in a football ground. Odd choice though, I wondered if they'd just taken them from nearby trees.
The stall at Linlithgow Rose stays open almost until full time. On very cold days this has caused me to partake of the dreaded third pie. Very handy for a warming tea or hot chocolate though.
 


Fucking hell Gordon, thought you were going to say a second pie!

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What more do folk want at a game?  A pie and hot/cold drink.

This is fitba, not fucking baseball. 

I despair.

ETA. Stephens is well over rated as well btw.

Edited by Melanius Mullarkey

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11 minutes ago, 8MileBU said:

 


Fucking hell Gordon, thought you were going to say a second pie! emoji1.png

 

To a man of my stature, a second pie is a merely afters. 

8 minutes ago, Melanius Mullarkey said:

What more do folk want at a game?  A pie and hot/cold drink.

This is fitba, not fucking baseball. 

I despair.

ETA. Stephens is well over rated as well btw.

Aye, but I don't want to queue for ages for it in a place I can't see the game, pay £6 for it and then it's shite anyway.

Also, the next generation might be looking for more. I'm not the one to know, but they're worth asking.

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One other thing worth mentioning is the contrast between the food at the football and the rugby. Murrayfield doesn't have built-in catering facilities, it's all vans around the ground. The food is much more expensive than at the football, but it's actually worth it. I'd rather starve than pay £4.50 for a hot dog made of beaks and claws, but I'm happy to pay £6 for a good, filling chicken or venison burger made with decent ingredients - perchance even sporting a leaf of lettuce. When going to a football ground I time it to arrive as little before kick-off as possible; at Murrayfield we'll usually arrive a good 45 minutes before kick off, have something to eat, sometimes catch up with a few folk. I think a lot of bigger clubs could improve matchday for fans and generate more cash by offering something above their usual catering but short of hospitality. Of course, it might be that it wouldn't work if they couldn't sell alcohol at the same time. But some sort of cut-price, rough-and-ready pre-match food and drink thing could be possible.

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Thanks for all your responses so far - it is really great to hear the positives and the negatives from across the country.

I appreciate that some people just want to watch a football match, but we so often hear of complaints about value for money (in addition to the playing side of things) and it is important to make fans want to enjoy what they are paying money for, especially if the football doesn't allow them to do that!  It is also important to continue to attract new supporters to games and with the changes in social interests and technology etc. the clubs need to think of new ideas to remain as appealing as possible.

Keep the comments coming!

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On ‎11‎/‎09‎/‎2018 at 22:34, Melanius Mullarkey said:

What more do folk want at a game?  A pie and hot/cold drink.

This is fitba, not fucking baseball. 

I despair.

ETA. Stephens is well over rated as well btw.

Agreed - I go to football to watch football. I have never considered or expected it to be a dining experience.

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Just because some folk are happy to be treated like mug punters doesn't mean the rest of us are.

I don't think anyone is calling for Michelin star food here. I think folk just want little more variety and quality and to not be ripped off so much.

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