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Scottish fans want alcohol ban lifted and safe standing introduced

Safe standing

The majority of Scottish football fans want to see the alcohol ban at games lifted, safe standing areas in grounds introduced and supporters represented at board level at their clubs.

The full results of the Supporters Direct Scotland National Football Survey, in association with the Scottish FA, were announced at the Supporters Direct Scotland Annual Conference in Stirling today (15th of June).

The survey of almost 3000 Scottish football fans revealed almost 62% were in favour of lifting the alcohol ban in Scottish football. However the majority of females (51.5%) that responded were against lifting the ban.

When asked if they thought the ban had been successful in reducing crowd disorder, 48.28% of participants thought it had. A vast majority (72.40%) were in favour of the introduction of a small scale trial.

Nearly 91% of participants were in favour of seeing safe-standing areas being introduced. Of those who don’t attend games regularly, almost half (48.79%) claimed they would be more likely to attend games if they had the choice to stand.

And as the momentum continues to build towards greater fan representation at the highest levels of the game, over 93% believe supporters should be represented in their club’s boardroom. Similarly, there is a strong belief that the fan ownership model can work in Scotland, with over 91% holding this opinion.

14% of participants were ‘very’ worried about the issue of match fixing, although 56% were either ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’. 65% believed players should not be allowed to bet on matches.

The survey also showed that 61% believe a change of season to March to November would benefit the game and 56.5% are confident that the National Team will qualify for Euro 2016.

Participants were strongly of the opinion that Scottish football does not have a problem with racism or homophobia, 84% believed the game has a problem with sectarianism.

Paul Goodwin, Head of Supporters Direct in Scotland said: “It is important for every business to understand what its customer base wants and football is no different. The Scottish FA recognises this and their increased support for the work we do is welcomed.

“The survey has confirmed much of what we were aware of already through our regular discussions with supporters trusts across the country but there were some very interesting new insights on views of the alcohol ban and the safe standing discussions.

“What did come through strongly is that there is an increasing confidence amongst fans about the future of the game in Scotland and that there is clear progress being made on changing the game for the better.”

Stewart Regan, Scottish FA Chief Executive, said: “The National Football Survey covered a wide range of topical issues, and the conference on Sunday provides a great opportunity for people with an interest in the game to hear and discuss the findings.

“It’s important that we take opportunities like this to listen to supporters and take on board their views on issues relating to Scottish football.”

The conference at the University of Stirling was attended by fans, people working in the game, media representatives and academics.

Topics discussed included Scottish football’s alcohol ban, safe standing areas in grounds and increasing calls for supporter representation at board level. Women in football, summer football, disability access in football, clubs’ financial transparency and football and society were also discussed.

Speakers included:

• Jon Darch, from the Safe Standing Roadshow – a prominent campaigner for safe standing at grounds
• Dr Borja García, a member of the European Commission’s expert group on sport policy
• The ‘No to Hull Tigers’ group
• Sports finance expert Stephen Morrow from the University of Stirling
• Paul Goodwin, Head of Supporters Direct Scotland
• Former Kilmarnock and Morton manager Kenny Shiels

The Supporters Direct Scotland National Football Survey, in association with the Scottish FA, aims to bring a greater understanding of supporters’ perceptions of football’s role within Scottish society, the match day experience, governance of the game as well as grassroots and youth development, among other topics.

The first National Football Survey was carried out twelve months ago by the Scottish FA.

Key findings from the 2013 survey included:

• The majority of supporters wish to see a larger top league, operated by a single league body, and with no more than three senior divisions
• Supporters consider greater financial distribution and a merger of the SPL and SFL to be the most important aspects of any reconstruction
• While the majority of fans consider the National Men’s A Squad to be seriously underachieving, the majority also consider the Women’s National Team and the National Youth Teams to be performing as expected or overachieving.
• Better Coaching, increased grassroots participation and better facilities are the three main factors in improving standards.
• Supporters want a pyramid system introduced to the game which is duly implemented prior to the current season’s commencement

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