Back in March, The Clumpany wrote a blog about the launch of Supporters Direct Scotland’s (SDS) ‘Scottish Football Supporters Survey 2016′.
The survey was conducted “in partnership with the Scottish FA and supported by the SPFL”.
SDS were kind enough to draw my attention to the outcome of the survey, which was published on 27 September, and I am very happy to share it with you in the interests of raising awareness and promoting debate.
You can read the outcome by clicking on this link:
I could not locate any other documents or a ‘full detailed report’. However, the key findings – compiled following the receipt of over 14,000 responses – were as follows:
“When asked about admission and ticket prices, 69.73% felt Scottish football represented either poor or very poor value with just 4.54% believing it was good value.
Supporters felt the introduction of safe standing would improve the match-day experience with 79% stating so.
Ticket prices were seen as the biggest factor in influencing a supporter’s decision whether to attend a game
Participants were very much in favour of a controlled pilot scheme to consider the reintroduction of alcohol in a responsible manner with 67% in favour.
Survey participants were generally positive about the impact of SPFL league restructuring, the introduction of play-offs and the introduction of the pyramid system
A vast majority of supporters were in favour of adopting a form of Financial Fair Play (over 80%).
Three divisions was by far the most popular (53.7%) league structure with four divisions (24%) and two divisions (17%) the second and third most popular respectively.
Participants did not feel the Judicial Process was fair with 53% of participants stating so.
Supporters were seemingly not concerned about match fixing within Scottish football with just 37.88% stating they were either slightly or very concerned about the matter.
Participants felt greater education of the issues of sectarianism, racism, sexism and homophobia within Scottish football was required with 73% stating so.
There was an overwhelmingly response from participants in favour of their club paying the Living Wage to staff with just 3.04% not in favour of it.”
At the time of the survey’s launch, The Clumpany said the following:
“Questions 12, 13 and 20 [of the survey] are perhaps the most interesting as far as I am concerned.
They provide an opportunity to comment on the extent to which you think the SFA is committed to ‘Improved governance of the game’, ‘Ensuring clubs are well run’ and ‘Stronger financial regulations’ as well as whether you are ‘optimistic about the future of Scottish football’, and ‘concerned about match-fixing in Scotland’.”
The survey’s findings on Financial Fair Play, the Judicial Panel process and match-fixing address some of the issues raised by these questions. And we are told that the respondents’ three priorities for the SFA are as follows
- Promoting Scottish football;
- Increasing grassroots participation; and
- Improving refereeing standards.
However, I struggled to find anything which could be viewed as squarely about the sort governance issues that are often a focus of this blogs and much online commentary from Scottish football fans. For example: the fitness for purpose of the SFA and SPFL themselves, their even-handedness, their commitment to justice being done and being seen to be done in response to misdeeds, and the effectiveness of their licensing practices etc. You know the sort of thing: substantial matters which ultimately determine whether Scottish football is an actual sport or not!
At the very least, it would be interesting to know what proportion of survey respondents felt that “the SFA is committed to ‘Improved governance of the game’” as per one of its questions. Far be it from me to be cynical, but I suspect that if the results were poor, the SFA would not be keen on them being highlighted!
Looking ahead, SDS have apparently agreed with the Scottish FA and SPFL to present three key ‘asks’ as a consequence of its survey which it will challenge Scottish football to consider. They are as follows:
“Innovation around ticket pricing – SDS want to support a more innovative approach to ticket prices and matchday value. We recognise that revenue cannot drop at our clubs, nor would supporters want to see that impacted on the park. We do believe there are more creative pricing strategies that can be introduced, delivering wider choice at both ends of the pricing scale. SDS also believes we can work with clubs to assess how to add genuine, meaningful value to match-days and open to that process of dialogue and support.
Fan focused approach – SDS would like to see supporters more central to decision making processes, by those that govern the game, both from within (governing bodies) and externally (local authorities, police and other external agencies, and Scottish Government). This means taking a more “customer focused” approach to the game we love, from police and stewarding. We also want to see the introduction of a test pilot around family friendly in-stadium bars (which already exist) that don’t require fans to come in and leave, before re-entering the stadium.
Kick-off times – We recognise the significant annual investment TV companies make into Scottish Football.We’re also sure that low attendances don’t look great as a TV spectacle. SDS wants to build a direct relationship with Sky Sports, BT Sport and BBC Scotland with a regular course of meetings. We know there must always be compromises, but we believe there’s a real opportunity for us to work together to promote the game we love.”
This is of course laudable stuff, although I would have hoped to see the tackling of “issues of sectarianism, racism, sexism and homophobia within Scottish football” (which 73% of respondents were concerned about) make the final cut. These things should have absolutely NO PLACE in our game and ought to be a priority for all involved.
However, no matter which key ‘asks’ are highlighted by SDS, they are only as good as the degree to which they are put into action. And at the moment, the rather bland initial responses of Messers Regan and Doncaster do not fill me with confidence:
Stewart Regan, Scottish FA chief executive said:
“The Scottish Football Survey gives fans an opportunity to have their say on the issues that matter most. I am delighted that so many have responded and we will work to ensure that the views of the supporters are heard and acted upon.
We are now in the second year of the Scottish FA Congress – the only forum where all stakeholders within the game are represented – and Supporters Direct Scotland will present this year’s results to that group with a view to the key issues featuring in our Convention in December.
The Scottish Football Survey has already helped influence change with the creation of the single league body, the introduction of play-offs and the creation of the Scottish football pyramid.
We have worked closely with the Scottish Government and SDS to ensure greater supporter involvement in the game and, to that end, the Congress will also hear a presentation on the benefits of a more co-ordinated approach to implementing the role of Supporter Liaison Officers throughout the senior game.”
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster commented:
“Through the Scottish Football Supporters Survey, we have an excellent opportunity to hear the views of fans and use them to make a positive impact on all areas of the game.
This platform means results from the survey are fed straight to the game’s decision makers. The survey tells us and our members what the game means to fans, what they enjoy and what changes they would most like to see.
The age of social media has given supporters a voice like never before and that is demonstrated by the sheer number of participants in this year’s survey.
This volume of data and feedback will help us move forward with a product that is exciting to existing fans and a new generation of supporters. Without fans, there is no game.
The SPFL and our clubs will continue to do everything we can to look after existing fans, listen to their opinions and open the game up to new fans. This survey is one way of doing that.”
That said, it would be churlish not to give them the space to try and do something constructive in response. I hope SDS will be suitably scathing if they feel the governing bodies end up dragging their heels.
I also hope that SDS have noted continuing fan concerns about the governance of the game in Scotland since their survey was launched, and will look at ways to consider these issues in future.
The sort of matters raised by the Offshore Game report might be a good place to start.