Via Club Development Scotland, our consultancy service for supporter groups and community clubs, January saw us work with our friends at Annan Athletic, assisting them with the incorporation of the club as a 100% member owned ‘Community Benefit Society’.
At the time, Phillip Jones of the Annan Athletic Board said the following of the decision:
“By undertaking this process, the club will have constitutional community benefit and will commit to reinvesting all profits back into the club. The expertise from Supporters Direct has been immense”.
We followed up our work with Annan with the announcement we’d be supporting Austin MacPhee’s Fife based charitable football club, AMS, on an ongoing basis. Since May, we’ve helped the charity, which runs a number of community programmes, become registered for Gift Aid, undertake member satisfaction surveys and better understand its community and social value.
March saw us run our ‘Week of Action’ involving our Annual Supporters Summit, the launch of the 2017 Scottish Football Supporters Survey, our first SLO Development Day of the Year and the hosting a number of equality through sport events with our educational institution partners through our Colours of our Scarves project.
The 2017 Supporters Summit saw us as welcome a range of speakers and workshop deliverers to Hampden Park to lead discussion and share best practice all with the aim of furthering fan involvement and dialogue in Scottish football. Speakers on the day included The Guardian’s David Conn, the Foundation of Hearts and Ashley Brown from Portsmouth Supporters Trust and CEO of SD UK.
We were also delighted to launch the 2017 Scottish Football Supporters Survey on the day with Motherwell’s Keith Lasley.
Amongst the key headlines from this year’s consultation, which engaged around 13,000 fans via almost every club in Scotland, were that supporters do not believe the admission price for games in Scotland represents value for money. “Your relationship with your club,” ranked third as a determinate around whether supporters would attend matches.
We followed up the Summit with our first SLO Development Day of the year, held at St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park. Attendees heard from Brighton’s Nick Brice, Malmo FF’s Pierre Nordberg and St Johnstone’s very own SLO Beverley Mayer.
At the same time, SD Scotland were also represented via our anti-discrimination ‘Colours of our Scarves’ programme where we working with Forth Valley and Ayrshire College in delivering sport events which promoting inclusiveness and equality within sport, tackling stereotypes in the process.
The Week of Action was concluded with what has become an annual game versus a Parliamentary X11 captained by the Scottish Parliament Convener Ken MacIntosh. SD Scotland overcame a strong fightback from the politicians to victor 8-7 in an end to end match. The match was made memorable for a glaring miss from the penalty spot by SD Scotland’s very own Andrew Jenkin. It’s worth watching the highlights for that alone.
April saw us announce the news our Colours of our Scarves programme had been awarded continued funding from the Scottish Government. We were one of 11 organisations funded through the Tackling Sectarianism fund and the funds received have allowed us to use our position within football to facilitate anti-discrimination work with youth players and coaches in schools, colleges, communities and clubs through Supporter Liaison Officers. Our work has recently been recognised by the College Network who have nominated Ayrshire College for their ‘Say Naw To Racism’ campaign delivered in partnership with SD Scotland.
June saw us release the very first ‘SD Scotland Index‘ measuring and benchmarking club’s progress in a range of fields around supporter involvement and governance. The index also examines the breakdown of ownership of SPFL clubs. This has been inspired by the work of the Raith Rovers Supporters Trust who have provided updates on ‘Who Owns What?’ at the club for a number of years. Alan Russell, author of the Index and SD Scotland Council Member was then awarded the prestigious ‘Richard Lillicrap Award’ for creating the index and his role in helping fans better understand the ownership structures of their clubs.
July was significant to SD Scotland for another reason too. Following the Supporters Direct AGM on July 2nd, Supporters Direct Scotland (SD Scotland) are pleased to announce SD members voted unanimously in favour of SD Scotland incorporating locally in Scotland.
The new organisation will be run and directed from within Scotland and all football activity including SD Scotland’s work supporting Supporters Trusts and organisations, Supporter Liaison Officers and the Scottish Supporters Network will be transferred to this new organisation which is to be established and registered as a Community Benefit Society and owned by its Scottish members. Our aim is to have all activity handed over to the new entity, Board and members by the start of the new calendar year.
In what was turning out to be a busy month for SD Scotland, we also held our second SLO Development Day of the year, bringing together the network of SLOs to hear from a range of speakers such as Mark Bradley (AKA The Fan Experience Company). The month was capped off with the news SD Scotland had been awarded funding to develop our Community Sport Fund idea which would see the formation of a social investment fund created to facilitate community ownership of sport clubs and their development.
We’ve since capped off the year with another Development Day for SLOs, this time at Hampden Park and welcoming Football vs Homophobia, Greig Mailer of the Scottish FA and JP Taylor of Celtic among others.
As a Community Benefit Society ourselves with an objective of promoting sport and sports clubs as vehicles through which positive societal change can occur, we’ve helped support some great organisation delivering huge amounts of value to Scottish sport and society. Through our Supporters Summit, we were able to raise money to make donations to our charity partners for the event ‘Football Memories’ and ‘Motor Neuron Disease Scotland’. We were very proud to support these events and have since been able to further support Football Memories through videos raising awareness of the charity’s work. This involved a one-to-eleven session with former Celtic and Rangers players Tom Boyd and Gordon Smith respectively. We’ve also been able to support the Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal and a special contribution to the Margaret Ross Memorial Fund, following her sad passing last year.
Finally, we were very pleased to launch our very own ‘Build A Winning Club‘ crowdfunding platform. Using ShareIn’s white labelling technology, Supporters Direct is now able to enable communities to raise capital for projects around their clubs, which could include ownership. This applies to all levels of sport in Scotland from professional clubs to grassroots community clubs.
The platform’s first campaign has seen Supporters Direct Scotland help raise over £700 for the Scottish Amputee Football Association which will be used to meet the costs associated with hosting an international tournament
As we head to a new year and look to move to our new structure, we looking forward to seeing what the next 12 months holds for us and our members as we continue to support them and further supporter involvement in the ownership and governance of the game.