Scottish Supporters Network

Supported by Supporters Direct Scotland and sponsored by Fansbet

Strengthening Scottish Football
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2019/20

Supporters Direct Scotland today revealed the survey results from the second year of a three-year benchmarking study in partnership with the Scottish FA and SPFL.

Click the image above to view the results. You can also explore the results in more depth here.

This season’s survey tracked progress against the three themes identified in previous years’ surveys: value for money, fan engagement, and the supporter experience. The findings will be used to identify improvements in each of these areas, as well as helping the clubs and governing bodies understand supporters’ priorities on a broader range of issues.

For the first time, supporters were asked to identify which aspects of clubs’ work within their communities they most appreciate, and what makes for a great matchday experience as an away supporter. This has generated some great insights which will help to reinforce the good work being done around the country, and identify simple actions clubs can take to make further improvements.

Worrying trends persist when it comes to discrimination, with sharp increases over the last two years in levels of racism, sexism and homophobia, and no significant reduction in sectarianism.

Value for money:

  • Supporters rating SPFL games as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ remain steady at 12%, but there has been a shift from ‘fair’ to ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ – ‘very poor’ has gone up from 12% last season to 16%
  • Championship fans give the lowest Value For Money score; League Two fans give the highest scores
  • Kick off times are the most important factor when deciding whether to attend games for the first time –ticket cost was always in first position in previous years – and perceptions of value are more complex than just ticket price

Fan engagement:

  • Almost two-thirds of supporters (64%, compared with 52% last year) know that their club has a Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO)
  • Almost every supporter (96%) who needed to contact their SLO was able to do so
  • 75% of supporters support some degree of supporter ownership, with less than 3% against supporter involvement in the governance of their club
  • Motherwell, Hamilton, Celtic, Ross County and Hearts were the highest ranked clubs for their work in the community – the same five clubs at last season; Stenhousemuir were the highest ranked club from the lower two divisions
  • Supporters particularly appreciate efforts by clubs to engage young people in their community work and as supporters, and their work with local charitable causes

Supporter experience:

  • The top five factors affecting attendance were:
       1. Kick-off times
       2. Ticket costs
       3. Family commitments
       4. Relationship with club
       5. Work commitments
  • The top three factors affecting overall experience of buying tickets and going to matches were:
       1. Atmosphere
       2. Customer service
       3. Facilities
  • Only 15% of supporters agreed that ‘Scottish football is committed to a high quality fan experience’ (compared to 18% last season); 60% disagreed with that statement
  • 89% of supporters revealed they had witnessed ‘sectarianism’ compared with ‘racism’ (63%), physical abuse (57%) and homophobia (51%), sexism (50%) and disability discrimination (19%) – five of these categories show slight increases on last year, and both homophobia and sexism have sharply increased since 2017
  • 50% of respondents said they had been subject to sectarianism and 19% physical abuse. 35% said they would not report it at all
  • 66% of supporters believe their club provides adequate facilities for supporters with disabilities
  • The top five clubs for away matchday experience were: Hearts, Hibs, Kilmarnock, Ross County and Celtic; Brechin City was also ranked very highly
  • Hearts and Celtic scored well due to the atmosphere generated within their stadia; good customer service and fair treatment by stewards at Hibernian, Kilmarnock and Hearts were also common themes; the warm friendly welcome experience by many fans visiting Ross County and Brechin City was recognised by many; quality and variety of catering was also highlighted frequently

 

Other insights

The survey respondents were largely fans of men’s football, but as was also found last season many would be more likely to attend women’s football if it was easier to find out when and where games were played (40%) and if there was better promotion from the media (34%).

Perceptions of the Scottish national teams have declined since last year, along with a downward shift in optimism about the future of Scottish football (27% are optimistic and 47% are pessimistic). Our domestic cup competitions remain popular with supporters.

 

 

Alan Russell, Supporters Direct Scotland’s chief executive comments:

“We continue to be encouraged by the enthusiasm with which supporters wish to make their views on all aspects of Scottish football known. Once again, we have been able to engage a broad cross section of supporters from across the country in shaping our recommendations to clubs and the football authorities.

“Supporters have identified clearly what they like and do not like, and we delve deeper each year to understand the things that will make a difference to them. Our understanding of these issues is reinforced and refined with each of these surveys, and the patterns are clear. Supporters are looking for better value for money – but this is about more than just ticket prices. Perceptions of value extend to how we are treated by the clubs we visit, and the variety and quality of products on offer.

“Scottish football is seen to be an inclusive place for people of all backgrounds, but we still have problems with discrimination. These may not always be widespread, but they are unacceptable. Levels of sectarian and racist abuse remain very high and have increased slightly, but most worrying are sharp rises in sexism and homophobia in recent years. There is a growing acknowledgement that there is no place for these behaviours in Scottish football, but action needs to keep up with these changing attitudes.

“More positively, there is almost universal endorsement for supporters being involved in the governance of football; and fan engagement has improved steadily over recent years. The work of Supporter Liaison Officers has been a particular success in bringing fans closer to their clubs. Three quarters of SPFL clubs now have an SLO, and they are well known and accessible to the supporters who seek their help. They are to be congratulated – individually and collectively – for their passion, dedication and commitment to improving the experience of their fellow fans.

“We are keen to work with clubs to help them understand the data from their own fans, what visiting supporters say about their experience of them, and also how they can apply some of the best practices from elsewhere. Competition is fierce within the field of play, but by collaborating and learning from each other in the stands, offices and boardrooms we can all work together to strengthen Scottish football.”

 

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster comments:

“As we enter the final year of this three-year study, it is very interesting to see how supporter feedback has developed over the last 24 months. It is also very encouraging to see almost 4000 supporters engaging with this year’s survey.

“Insight like this is invaluable as we constantly look for new ways to improve the Scottish game and assist our member clubs in developing and growing the positive aspects of their own matchday experience. Almost 4.5 million supporters attended matches across all four divisions last season, a figure that pays testament to the work being done by the clubs to make Scottish football as attractive as possible to supporters.”

 

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell says:

“The annual Scottish Football Supporters survey has again provided invaluable insight on what matters most to the fans. These results will help the Scottish FA shape our focus as we strive to provide the best experience possible for supporters.

“As always, it is clear that Scottish football fans feel passionately about value for money, which is one of the reasons that we have slashed ticket prices for our upcoming UEFA EURO 2020 Play-off semi-final against Israel. With tickets starting from just £5, we have sought to give something back to loyal Scotland supporters to help ensure that Steve Clarke’s side get a raucous backing at Hampden in March.

“In recent years we have introduced a number of initiatives designed to improve supporter experience, including fan zones at both Men’s and Women’s Scotland National Team matches. We will continue to place supporter experience at the forefront of our planning and the opportunity provided by legacy initiatives from hosting EURO 2020 and taking ownership of Hampden Park next year will only serve to increase our options in this key area.

“One of the key takeaways from this survey is that kick-off times are high on the list of priorities for fans. While it is important to note that kick-off times for Scotland national team matches are dictated by UEFA, we will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that as many fans as possible can attend matches across Scotland to enjoy our national game.”