Supporters Direct Scotland today (March 7, 2019) revealed the results of the first of three surveys to be carried out in the period up to 2020 as part of a partnership with the Scottish FA and SPFL.
There are three things that really matter to fans, which reflect feedback from previous surveys: value for money; fan engagement; supporter experience.
All three organisations involved in the partnership have worked at forging deeper relationships, and a wider programme of engagement with clubs to give Scottish football an opportunity to reflect on the insights that the data delivers.
In particular, for the first time Alan Russell from Supporters Direct Scotland was invited to present the results to SPFL clubs. This followed a presentation last summer to all clubs at their Annual Meeting.
Results across the board show broad improvements over the last three years around value for money, but worrying trends persist when it comes to discrimination.
Value for money
There are many fascinating insights in the survey which will be used as part of an ongoing process of engagement with clubs.
Positively, supporters are more optimistic (41%) than pessimistic (34%) about the future of Scottish football. And the Scottish Cup is highly rated with 72% of fans saying that the oldest cup competition in the world is a great spectacle.
Alan Russell, Supporters Direct Scotland’s chief executive comments:
“This year’s results, which mark the first of a three-year benchmarking study, provide valuable insight which we will be using as part of our ongoing dialogue with the SPFL & Scottish FA.
“While we have seen some improvement around respondents’ views on value for money and the supporter experience, there is a long way to go. Where we have seen improvement, this is reflected in a more flexible approach to pricing, particularly in different parts of the stadium.
“It is encouraging to see that simple ideas can make a huge difference, and don’t need to cost a lot of money – innovative catering ideas such as donuts iced in the visiting team’s colours at St Johnstone give fans an awayday to remember – and initiatives like ‘kids go free’ at Partick Thistle help to build the next generation of Scottish football supporters. There are many similar examples from around the country where clubs have made positive strides towards creating a more engaging, exciting matchday experience.
“One other important element for clubs to think about is the relationship they have with their supporters, as this was identified as one of the top five factors affecting attendance. It certainly underlines the importance of a strong connection between the boardroom and the terraces.
“Respect issues should still be a major concern for Scottish football. Most supporters have witnessed discrimination in and around football stadia in Scotland; and many supporters have been victims of abuse, particularly sectarianism. Worryingly, a third of fans say they would not report discrimination if they witnessed it or were subjected to it.
“Over the last year we’ve engaged closely with the SPFL and Scottish FA in preparing this survey. We’ve also worked with a group of clubs to sense check our work, and to ensure there is value. The fact that we presented to the clubs at the latest General Meeting in January marked another watershed in the relationship between Supporters Direct Scotland and clubs. When we have to we’ll be critical, but we are a supportive friend. We, like those who own or run football clubs love the game. Our desire is to see Scottish football as strong as it can possibly be, thriving, vibrant and set for the future. We’ll keep working towards that aim.”
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster comments:
“This survey provides fans of Scottish football with a valuable opportunity to have their say on the issues that matter most to them and it’s pleasing to see so many have shared their views.
“It provides great insight into important areas of the game and we are always seeking ways in which we can improve.
“We look forward to working with SD Scotland and the Scottish FA over this three-year period, and will take time to reflect on the views of supporters as well as explore ways to better our game.”
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell says:
“Scottish football supporters are the lifeblood of the game and the annual Football Supporters survey provides us with invaluable insight into their opinions, allowing us to focus our efforts and take in to account their views to ensure the supporter experience is catered to those whom it affects the most.
“The survey has one key aim: to listen to the fans. This offers us a unique opportunity to hear their opinions directly and work to implement their feedback.
“This will contribute towards the goal of sharing good practice and sparking discussion around how Scottish football can do more to deliver the three key points arising from the survey to supporters: value for money, fan engagement and supporter experience.
“On the subject of fan engagement, following recent consultation with members of the Scotland Supporters Club, we took into account the views of Scotland fans when setting the prices of our European Qualifier home match packages. The response from fans to the pricing of these packages has been very positive, with more than 6,000 sales within the first week.
“Supporter experience is something we are also aiming to tackle, and is an immediate focus area for us once the sale of Hampden Park goes through. It is one of the key benefits we can expect to capitalise on as a result of owning our own stadium and being in a position to shape the match day experience.
“One of the priorities of the Scottish FA is to put fans at the forefront of everything that we do. The three main points highlighted in the survey dovetail with our existing goals to improve upon these areas for matches held at the national stadium as well as across the nation – improving the package on offer for fans and ensuring that our national game becomes a thriving, welcoming experience for everyone.”