Date: 9th April 2015
A new, independent football supporters’ organisation has been launched to represent every Scottish football fan with the backing of former Scotland captain Gary McAllister.
The Scottish Football Supporters Association is a not-for-profit, members’ body open to everyone, whether they are individuals, supporters groups or affiliates.
Until now Scotland had been the only football nation in Europe not to have an independent fans’ body.
The SFSA already has pledges of support from Scottish fans’ groups at club level comprising some 40,000 people.
The SFSA set up will include a national advisory group with experts on football and governance matters including Henry McLeish (author of the McLeish Report), Maureen McGonigle (founder of Scottish Women in Sport and former executive of Scottish Women’s Football) and from academia and the business world, working with a Football Advisory Group that already includes fans from Aberdeen, Ayr United, Celtic, Dumbarton, Hearts and Rangers. The SFSA’s ‘Fans Parliament Network’ aims to have 42 members representing each senior club.
Gary McAllister, who has been named as The SFSA’s first ambassador said: “Supporters have always been at the heart of the game and having an independent voice that offers a valuable contribution to the game in Scotland is something that I am delighted to support.”
Henry McLeish said: “Football fans and supporters are the life blood of the game. We need to make sure that there is always a constructive dialogue with the fans so their wishes and aspirations can be heard and acted upon. Football works best when it works together. Over the next decade there are real challenges facing the Scottish game but also real opportunities to build on the work that is already being done by the SPFL clubs, the SFA and the vast number of clubs and players in every part of Scotland. We also need to broaden the fan base and attract new fans and supporters. The live game matters and I am sure the new organisation being set up today will help grow the game and make a positive contribution to a bigger and more successful future.”
Maureen McGonigle said: “Football has for many years been a male domain however with the growth of the women’s game and the increase in female fans at all levels of the game it is important to recognise the contribution that women supporters bring to Scottish Football and ensure that their voice is heard.”
Paul Goodwin from The SFSA said: “The role that supporters play in the game is undoubtedly greater than ever before but there are still aspects of the game that they have strong views and believe they should have a greater say in. Ticket pricing, fixture scheduling and the commercial success of the game are only a few topics that continually come up in fan conversations but we know that are others too and we want to work closely with the current footballing authorities to ensure fans are involved in the decisions being made that impact on our game.
“Incredibly, to date, Scotland has been the only footballing nation in Europe to date not to have an independent football supporters’ organisation, something that will probably come as a surprise to many. In England the Football Supporters Federation has 500,000 members and across Europe The Football Supporters Europe network includes independent supporters groups from 45 countries but not from Scotland. We firmly believe that a nation like Scotland should be part of that powerful group.
“At the moment the only organisation that represents fans in Scotland is Supporters Direct which is controlled and governed from London and can only formally represents the voice of formally constituted supporters’ trusts. This means that thousands of fans are shut out without a voice because groups like The Foundation of Hearts and Rangers First cannot be part of the Supporters Direct set up.
“With 40,000 pledges of support from fans already made to the SFSA through existing supporters groups we hope that will reach 100,000 in the short to medium term giving every Scottish football fan a body capable of being heard in a new way by government, the football authorities and club owners.
“The SFSA’s agenda will be developed and extended through ‘crowdsourcing’ meetings where supporters themselves define a vision of the game and hammer out what needs to change and what the priorities are for bringing about that change. This will of course be a continually evolving agenda as the game progresses but it will have the aims of football fans at its heart at all times.”
Dumbarton supporter Simon Barrow, who will initially head up the Football Advisory Group, said: “Football in Scotland continues to lack visibility and fair finance. Fan and community ownership has increased, but needs to go much further. The governing bodies of the game need a major overhaul with fans at the heart of them, not begging for ‘consultation’ or non-voting seat at a few tables.
“Scottish football, led by fans with deep roots in our communities, also has to bring new people and resources into its circle, and to stop defining itself in terms of the aspirations of the wealthy elite that dominates at the highest level in England and across the globe.
“The SFSA policy of being open to everyone applies not only to Scottish clubs — the Tartan Army, for example, and its members are also encouraged to join up. This means that the SFSA it can engage with the widest variety of fans, from all over the country, ensuring that all viewpoints are represented.
“We have invited the Supporters Direct Scotland Council in Scotland to join with us to build the independent fans’ movement we so badly need: one which can combine the best of what has been with fresh energy, involvement and ideas. We hope that they will accept our invite soon, but certainly in the future.
“The SFSA will be managed on a voluntary basis initially however we want to mirror how successful fans groups across Europe currently operate – through donations, commercial activity, grants and eventually securing contributions to costs through a levy system – with the firm aim of matching ideas and campaigning with capacity as rapidly as possible.
“Scottish football deserves better. Scottish fans deserve better. Change is possible. It’s our game; let’s take it back and make it better. That is the core message of SFSA and its #reclaimthegame pitch.”
For further information on The SFSA please contact Paul Goodwin on 07702-252519 or Simon Barrow on 07850-120413.
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