Third March Fan’s Meeting, with Anas Sarwar (Summary)
Date: 8th April 2021
On Wednesday the 31st of March, the SFSA held its sixth Fans Zoom Session with special guest Anas Sarwar. Anas, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, was keen to hear the thoughts of fans on a number of important issues that face our game as well as the wider social impact that football has on Scottish society and communities
Anas recognised the importance of football and sport in general within local communities, particularly clubs at grassroots level which play an integral role of maintaining the health and wellbeing of the country. Community clubs have been crucial during the pandemic, offering support and assistance those who are vulnerable in the local community.
Additionally, Anas recognises the issues of governance within Scottish football and the poor relationship between the football authorities and fans which needs to improve for the benefit of the wider game. Fans bring in the highest percentage of revenue for their clubs and so this should be acknowledged and respected by the football authorities.
We would like to thank Anas and all guests who were on the call who provided a thorough and interesting, wide-ranging discussion.
A key points summary can be found below:
- A consensus that fans should be allowed into Hampden Park in some capacity for the Euros this summer. A number of reasons supported this such as:
- The economic benefits that this will bring.
- The impact that Covid-19 has had on clubs of all sizes but particularly smaller clubs who are dependent on revenue generated through ticket sales.
- A discussion about the announcement of the early finalising of the Lowland and Highland league and the play offs into League 2. There was a consensus that clubs should have a fair opportunity to have access to resources that come with SPFL status.
- A brief overview of the events unfolding in England in relation to the “Our Beautiful Game” campaign.
- A recognition there is a “governance gap” and disconnect between those at the top who run our game and the fans. The game is only as good as the fans as they are at the heart of Scottish Football in comparison to the English top divisions where TV revenue plays a much larger role.
- There was much support for a review of the governance structure of our game and the need for an action plan post covid which has the best interest of the whole game at its core.
- Government shouldn’t be shy of pushing reform of Scottish game should they fail to implement change themselves.
- A discussion on the level of gambling in football and the negative impact it has on young people, particularly during the pandemic where it is arguably easier to become addicted to gambling through ease of access. There was also anecdotal evidence of this from SFSA partner Gamtalk U.K. which highlighted the very real issue of gambling among young people.
- A need for governing bodies to show a clear plan of action as we leave lockdown and restrictions are eased to allow clarity and confidence among the population.
- Talks on the idea of “covid passports” or a system to show who has been vaccinated, to allow for society to continue and vaccines are rolled out. Israel’s “green card” system was one example which allows those with both doses of the vaccine to return to some normality. A notable point was that it was more supported for international travel, etcetera, and shouldn’t be applied for everyday activities such as going to a pub or restaurant.
- This may be required to allow fans back into stadia for the Euros.
- The current planning out of lockdown and the pandemic is reactive rather than proactive and this is limiting confidence and certainty for clubs and fans.
- Discussion on the cross-faith working group that is in direct communication with the Scottish government which has produced a roadmap for its institutions for a return to normal services. Their united effort forced government to discussions and is something that we as a fans organisation should look to replicate to generate discussion and plans for a return to watching live sport.
- The large impact that the pandemic has had on mental health, particularly on young people with sports clubs being shut down. Anas recognised the importance of addressing this issue and the need to improve mental health services as move out of the pandemic.
- A need to support and encourage young people to participate in spots and cultural activities during the summer months to boost confidence and improve health and wellbeing so they are better prepared for the next school term, with improved confidence which will help in learning.
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