Second March Fan’s Meeting, with Douglas Ross (Summary)

Date: 17th March 2021

On Wednesday the 10th of March, the SFSA held our fifth fans zoom session with special guest Douglas Ross. As a member of parliament at Westminster for Moray, current leader of the Scottish Conservative party and SFA assistant referee, we were keen to hear his view on many topics on Scottish Football and what influence he can have on the game from political perspective.

Douglas is very much in tune to the current problems the Scottish game faces. During the call he expressed support for both reform and further investment from grassroots up. A positive from the call was that concern for the game was something that Douglas believed would be supported across all parties and so we will be working to try and bring attention to this issue to all parties as we approach the May election.

We would like to thank Douglas and all guests on the call a thorough and interesting wide-ranging discussion.

A key points summary:

  • Highlighting the continual lack of communication between football authorities and fans.

 

  • Douglas’s insight into the events across the border in England with the “Our Beautiful Game”

 

  • campaign where ex Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and Gary Neville have been active in an influential campaign making progress within the conservative party and now moving with significant political momentum.

 

  • The recent Westminster Government financial support for our game which for reasons unspecified was not offered to any of our Premier clubs and then was divided up based on leagues rather than circumstances. Like most things in Scottish football all with a lack of communication and reasons behind its decisions made clear to fans.

 

  • The need for improved representation of the woman’s game and its vital role as a priority in the wider discussion of Scottish football going forwards.

 

  • Potential cross-party support for the improvement and development of the game as a non-party issue but a cross party requirement.

 

  • The potential break-away of top clubs across Europe who see themselves as businesses rather than community clubs and how it might eventually impact our game.

 

  • The level of foreign investment already here as Scotland is seen as a low entry point for European football.

 

  • The possibility of VAR in Scotland and the challenge to Scottish officials as VAR experience is needed for future European football events.

 

  • A discussion around Alcohol in Scottish grounds and reintroduction/permitted sale of low percentage alcohol in stadia on a game-by-game basis.
    • Another point was made about Scottish football fans being typically villainised as likely to cause trouble compared to other sports such as Rugby and cricket which permit the sale of alcohol to spectators.

 

  • A wide issue of lack of trust between football authorities and Government

 

  • A lack of positive publicity and good things about our game and fan behaviour which occurs on a regular basis.

 

  • Extremely poor ongoing communication and inherent secrecy right through our game.

 

  • Discussion on gambling advertisement and the need to branch out to positive sponsors rather than sponsorships that harm members of our community.

 

  • Douglas was asked in a direct question and in answering said he was his own man and that his current position as a match official would not restrict him from criticising the football governing bodies.

 

  • A discussion around summer football and the positives and potential issues of implementation.
    • A comparison to Nordic counties who play in the summer and their performance on a national level and an investment model we can look to replicate.

 

  • How Scottish clubs and leagues can move away from current easier sponsorships like gambling and alcohol and how clubs can attract more positive sponsors and look to work to make the game family friendly.

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