The football authorities and the Fans’ Manifesto

Date: 18th January 2016

We at SFSA believe that a supporters organisation must be professional and democratic in its dealing with other stakeholders in the game. Our inspiration for the way to handle such important and challenging relationships comes from the superb work done by our colleagues in England at the Football Supporters Federation. They represent the fans with some really compelling campaigns, such as the Twenty’s Plenty activity that takes then right into the heart of issues like the distribution of wealth in the game, and of course pricing.

There is no doubt that these issues that the football authorities in England and Wales would far rather be regarded as ‘internal matters’, or indeed (in some quarters) ignored completely. The FSF, despite the fact they are funded by the football authorities themselves, handle the line between being supportive of all major fan issues and dealing professionally with the football bodies. There is undoubtedly a mutual respect there; one that has been earned over a period of time.

Here in Scotland it may take a rather longer time to get to the point that the FSF have achieved, where there is the same level of mutual acceptance. Part of the challenge that faces us is that the chasm between grassroots fans and the SPFL and the SFA has been so wide over the past five years that has been very little proper dialogue and too much distrust. This is something the SFSA wishes to change.

We recognised last year that a movement for change was needed to challenge the status quo in terms of the way the game is managed and run. Many fans groups, clubs, and individual supporters have felt the same and have joined our ranks. We are delighted with the 47,000 membership figure, but we are far from complacent, as we know there are even more fans that we still need to connect with and to convince that there really can be meaningful reform of our game, and that the views of its loyal supporters will at long last be heard.

Before we launched the SFSA back in April 2015 we approached the SFA and SPFL CEO’s and told them of our plans. We had a forthright, constructive meeting. We followed that up with inviting them to our launch (which they were unable to attend) and of course we have also been in touch and sent them copies of the newly published Fans’ Manifesto. The feedback from both organisations has been positive, in that we will have meetings to discuss the Manifesto this month. With a membership approaching 50,000 and over 10,000 members taking the time to fill in the joining survey, we are already the largest organisation of our kind in Scottish football history.

The Manifesto we have put together, based directly on fan input and experience, “ just words”. In the coming weeks we will be turning our aspirations into actions. To do that we are going to need more and more people to be involved. Do get in touch and encourage others to join. We promise to keep you posted in all that we are doing!

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