Date: 19th March 2017
Supporters Direct Scotland (SD Scotland) today (19 March 2017) launches its annual Scottish Football Supporters Survey for 2017 – with a clear message to fans across the country: your voice is heard.
Officially recognised as the lead supporters group in Scotland by the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and the Scottish Football Association (Scottish FA), SD Scotland has established a formal means to engage with the game’s key decision makers and represent fans’ views.
Last year’s survey saw a record-breaking 14,000 ensured supporters who participated in last year’s survey are being heard.
Outcomes from 2016 were formally presented to the Scottish FA’s Professional Game Board and Congress, the latter of which which includes representatives from all areas of football in Scotland.
This directly resulted in three key asks, and today SD Scotland updates on the progress of these areas:
Kick-off times – Recognising the significant investment that TV companies make into Scottish football, SD Scotland is sure that low attendances don’t look great as a TV spectacle. SD Scotland said it wanted to establish a direct relationship with the broadcasters. This had previously been managed via the rights holders (i.e. the governing bodies). SD Scotland is pleased to report that it has opened dialogue – which it views as a long term process – with BT Sport, Sky Sports & BBC Scotland, over the last few months. These discussions are likely to continue, as the organisation builds new, strong relationships with these companies.
Fan Focused Approach – SD Scotland wants supporters to be more central to the decision making process, and ensure they are treated fairly – particularly with regards to stewarding and policing. SD Scotland knows that the governing bodies share a view that the supporter experience has to evolve. One of the key areas of positive development in terms of strengthening connections between club and supporters is the increasing implementation of the Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) role. A significant number of clubs now have dedicated staff employed into this role, and these bold, imaginative colleagues are taking the good and bad of what’s happening at their club to senior management. This buy-in is hugely positive. SD Scotland has secured funding to support SLOs with a programme of training and engagement, to ensure they are embedded at the heart of what’s happening in Scottish football.
Innovation around ticket pricing – The price of tickets is a regular theme in feedback to the Scottish Football Supporters Survey. Equally, SD Scotland understands the significant pressure that clubs are under when it comes to managing a balanced budget. As such, and following the survey, the organisation proposed a much more innovative look at pricing. This wasn’t to be confused with cutting ticket prices, but more taking a look at introducing more variation in prices at both ends of the scale. This is an area of limited progress.
Positively, the Supporter Cycle introduced last autumn by SD Scotland is now providing a stronger framework for supporter engagement. Key elements of the process include:
• Structured quarterly meetings with the Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan and SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster
• Regular meetings with marketing & communications teams at both the Scottish FA & SPFL
• The launch of the Scottish Supporters Network and its ‘Supporters Wall’ has given supporters a direct opportunity to have their say on issues which arise, as a way of providing instant, broad feedback to governing bodies
• Introduction of wider consultation on the content of the Scottish Football Supporters Survey – including direct club engagement, and supporters themselves putting forward suggestions and ideas
• Survey outcomes presented to the Scottish FA Professional Game Board & Scottish FA Congress
As part of an evolution into the content of the Scottish Football Supporters Survey, all 42 SPFL clubs were invited to comment and recommend areas for inclusion in this year’s survey. The result will be an increased focus on clubs direct relationships with its supporters, as well as the wider “whole game” issues discussed in recent years.
Head of SD Scotland Andrew Jenkin comments:
“We’re very much at the start of a long-term process of engagement, ensuring that each survey connects to the next one, provides good benchmarking analysis and evolves with the needs of supporters, clubs and the governing bodies.
“The introduction of our “three asks” last year has helped focus debate. We’re pragmatic in that the type of progress needed is – in some areas – significant, and so we must build relationships, win trust and ensure that when we speak our voice is heard. In that regard, I’m absolutely delighted at the progress we’ve made. Through the survey and our Scottish Supporters Network, SD Scotland is establishing itself as the credible and trusted voice to provide valuable insight and feedback from supporters.
“I’m pleased that we’re building new relationships with broadcasters, and ultimately I hope all organisations can understand each other a little better, because we believe if supporters come to games in big numbers that can only be good for TV and create a positive cycle for the game.
“Equally, our ‘fan focused approach’ ask is progressing. One of the biggest successes of the last 12 months is the implementation much more widely of the Supporter Liaison Officer role. This is a requirement for clubs participating in UEFA competitions, but is only recommended for others. As such, in the early years of the requirement we saw existing club personnel simply have the role added to their list. Now we are seeing more and more clubs directly appoint an SLO, often making a significant new investment. The rewards are simple: a club now has a direct line to its supporters every day. We are delighted to be playing a key part in this process supporting training and development with clubs.
“Around ticket pricing, we note that prices aren’t rising, but the diversification we hoped to start to see come on to the agenda hasn’t yet materialised. There are three of four clubs in the Premiership who have a very broad pricing structure, providing low entry points as well as higher prices for the best seats, and this is something we would like to encourage more.
“As the change in rules relating to Unacceptable Conduct are now in play, requiring clubs to capture data outside matchdays, we believe this is another opportunity to grow revenue, rather than being an operational concern. SD Scotland is here and ready to provide advice and support around this area, and we hope clubs will take up that offer.
“All this underlines how vital it is we canvas the views of supporters going forward into this year’s survey. I can say with conviction that every voice is heard. Of course, the more who participate in the survey, the louder we are!”
Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan comments:
“The Scottish Football Supporters Survey is now the definitive forum for supporters of all clubs at all levels to have their say on the key issues that affect the national game. The Scottish FA now factors these results into our marketing and communications strategy planning to provide a better experience for fans at all of our matches across the board.
“It is an invaluable piece of research and insight, one that has helped shape our strategy and provide food for thought in recent years at board level, via our Congress – the only forum fully representative of the whole game – and at our Convention, where many speakers have presented based on supporter sentiment.
“We look forward to a similarly insightful survey this year.”
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster says:
“The SPFL recognises and supports the important role that SD Scotland has to play in representing the views of supporters across the country.
“It’s pleasing to note that progress has been made since last year’s survey, including SD Scotland enjoying direct dialogue with key broadcast partners as well as both ourselves at the SPFL and colleagues at the Scottish FA welcoming SD Scotland attendance and input at scheduled quarterly meetings.
“The findings of the annual survey and feedback at these meetings will be shared with key groups within the SPFL including the SPFL Board and our working groups covering competitions and communications.
“The recent innovations in the Betfred Cup are a great example of our game being shaped with the help of supporter feedback. By continuing to work closely with SD Scotland and looking closely at the results of the survey each year we can only grow the important influence of fans on Scotland’s national sport.”
This year’s Scottish Football Supporters Survey is online at www.scottishsupporters.net/survey until 2 April 2017.
Supporters who participate can enter a free draw to win tickets to Scotland’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against England on June the 10th.
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