Scottish Football, SFA

Implementing “The Fans’ Manifesto”

Good Afternoon.

Regular readers will know that yesterday’s blog was about the survey currently being conducted by Supporters Direct Scotland “in partnership with the SFA”.

Surveying The Damage?

As you might expect, there is more than one body out there ‘looking out’ for the ‘interests’ of Scottish football fans. Perhaps the most prominent is the Scottish Football Supporters Association, whose website can be found by clicking here.

This is what they say about themselves 

“The Scottish Football Supporters Association provides a platform for the ordinary Scottish Football Fan to have a say in the running of the game in Scotland.

We are a voluntary organisation funded by donations from fans and other interested parties who believe that it is essential that the interests of the key stakeholders are represented and that football clubs and the football authorities are held accountable to those stakeholders.

Our organisation is free to join for fans groups and for individuals who have a common aim of ensuring that Scottish football thrives for future generations to enjoy.”

Their organisational structure and staffing list is also worth a look. Read it and make up your own mind.

The SFSA has previously called for a national conversation on “sweeping changes” to fan involvement and ownership in Scottish football. And as the BBC reported on 10 January 2016:

“About 10,000 fans responded to a survey run last year by the SFSA about the future of the game.

The group, which has a membership of around 46,000 people, has produced a manifesto based in part on the responses, setting out how to “renew, reform and reclaim” football for fans and communities.

It was launched in the Scottish Parliament last week with backing from former first minister Henry McLeish and Green MSP Alison Johnstone, among others.

The Transforming Scottish Football document contains nine key points, including rebuilding the game with larger leagues, expanding community ownership, more diversity and participation in the governing bodies.”

Here is the document in question:

Transforming Scottish Football: The Fans’ Manifesto

Point 8 of the manifesto really caught the Clumpany’s ethereal eye, speaking as it does of “Regular, independent auditing and review of the performance of governing bodies and clubs”, and explaining in detail:

“When a fan is asked how well is the club they are following is doing they can point to a league table. This quickly establishes the quality of the on-field performance at any given time. Of course the reality of football means that there will be fluctuations in performance depending on a range of variable factors. But the beauty is that a league table never really lies, its judgment is there for posterity. However, when we are asked to rate the performance of the club as a business there are few clear criteria. This is because of a complete lack of transparency throughout the game. Often it is only when a crisis emerges that we get to see how a club is actually managed.

This lack of transparency is being questioned and changed in the banking and commercial sectors. It is no longer acceptable in Scottish football. Clubs have to maximize their effectiveness and live within their means. We want to see independent monitoring and evaluation of the off-field performance of clubs and governing bodies in all areas, from financial transparency to customer service. This includes performance tables. The SFSA will seek to reward high performers through our annual awards. We believe that strong supporter- and community-focused clubs will find themselves in a better position to thrive and to attract new revenue streams, creating a virtuous circle for the game and breaking down mistrust about transparency and fan engagement in boardrooms.

In recent times the reputation of both the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) have likewise suffered. This reflects badly on the game and hampers our ability to attract new investment into the sport. In modern commerce, most of the major brands and businesses evaluate customer feedback on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Looking at the SFSA survey results from over 10,000 fans, the Net Promoter score for our two national bodies is revealing and concerning.

The gulf between those who run football and those who love it and pay for it is far too wide to be healthy, which is why substantial reform in the boardrooms and throughout the governing bodies is in their interest, the fans’ interest, and the interests of Scottish football as a whole.”

Amen to that!

Given the high-profile nature of the SFSA  (it is worth noting – for example – that they ran a very lively campaign around the Scottish Government’s ‘Consultation on Supporter Involvement in Scottish Football Clubs’), I couldn’t help but ponder a possible disconnect between their views on governance issues and the content of the current Supporters Direct Scotland survey.

So I thought I would ask the SFSA about it. Directly. Below is a copy of an email I sent to them this morning.

“Dear Mr Goodwin

I wanted to draw your attention to my concerns about the survey which is currently being run by Supporters Direct Scotland in partnership with the SFA. These are set out in the attached blog.

You will see that while I welcome much of the ground covered by the survey, I think it is woefully lacking in material about improving the governance of the game, which I believe to be the single biggest problem we face. I am also hugely sceptical about the action that the governing bodies will take in response to the survey.

The SFA and SPFL remain aloof, unresponsive and seemingly utterly unaccountable to fans, and this is helping to create a poisonous running sore in our game.

Whilst the Scottish Football Supporters Association is not responsible for the Suporters Direct Scotland survey, I would be very interested to know your views on it, whether you intend to take an interest in its findings, and whether you will put pressure on the SFA to genuinely listen and act upon them.

I ask this bearing in mind your recently-published Fans’ Manifesto. In particular point 8, which is headed ‘Regular, independent auditing and review of the performance of governing bodies and clubs’. The detailed wording of point 8 pretty much hits the nail on the head as far as I and many others are concerned.

I would also be interested to hear more about any activities that the SFSA itself has in train to promote better and more accountable governance in Scottish football.

I will post this email on my blog site and would also like to post any reply that I receive from you.

Many thanks in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Should I receive a reply I will share it here.