11. Any other comments?
Question 9 of the consultation invited respondents to make any further comments about supporter involvement in football.
366 respondents provided further commentary in response to this question, including 14 organisations and 352 individuals. Most of their comments re-iterated those made in relation to previous questions and are reported earlier. The main additional comments not covered elsewhere are summarised below.
Although there were calls for greater will for change to come from the top, the SPFL, Scottish FA and Minister for Sport being identified in this regard, it was also recommended by some that the Scottish Government should not be involved in such issues.
It was mentioned that supporters sometimes do not receive the respect they deserve from the governing bodies of their sport and when they attend matches. Many commented that as the lifeblood of their clubs they expect to be treated appropriately, but repeated complaints were made over issues such as the price of tickets for matches, challenging access arrangements, for example, for those with disabilities, and generally what was perceived to be a poor atmosphere at grounds with some concerns raised over police management of supporters at matches.
"I believe that it is important that government and related bodies ( e.g. the police) reject any narrative framework which considers football fans as 'the enemy' or as a problem to be dealt with. Inherent suspicion towards and heavy-handed treatment of football fans must become a thing of the past. Obvious, prejudiced and unjustifiable inconsistencies in treatment towards football fans compared with other groups should also be brought to an end" (Individual).
"I've been watching the game for over 50 years, but have never felt as if I was of any value to my club" (Individual).
Many respondents focused their comments on wider aspects of the running of football clubs. Most prominent amongst these was the recommendation that football clubs should continue to work at creating channels of communication with their supporters in order to keep abreast of current views. In particular, respondents called for meaningful consultation between clubs and supporters, rather than tokenism.
"We feel that there should be at the very least a legal obligation on Clubs to consult with and heed the views of supporters at all times but certainly before taking and implementing any major policy decision. Our experience is that, although the officials of our club claim they consult supporters, it is often after decisions are made and it is not consultation but rather information sessions which take place" (The Celtic Supporters Trust).
A wide variety of other topics were raised which included:
- Whereas a few respondents praised governing body efforts to connect football at grassroots level, others considered that much more could be done on this front including encouraging new coaches and making use of currently unused local facilities.
- There were perceptions of the Old Firm dominating Scottish football to the detriment of football standards across the board. For example, "The game needs to be restructured to get the playing level even, for too long the game has been structured around 2 teams playing out of Glasgow" (Individual);
- Sectarianism needs to be tackled. "The one concern I have in Scotland is increasing sectarianism again. I have noticed at matches that sectarian songs can be clearly heard, not just by a small minority and until this is completely eradicated Scottish will not be able to move forward" (Individual); "We don't have a racism problem in Scotland, we do have a sectarian problem in Scotland and we do nothing about it" (Individual).
- Social and other media can present a very negative/unrepresentative picture of Scottish football which may influence wider opinion unduly.
Summary of key points
Under question 9 (Any further comments), respondents took the opportunity to raise a number of wider issues around football. A key topic area was that they should be given more respect from the governing bodies of football generally and when attending football matches. Comments were suggestive of some challenges in the relationship between governing bodies of football and football supporters with additional concern expressed over ticket prices and police management of supporters at matches.
A common recommendation was that football clubs should continue to work at creating meaningful channels of communication with their supporters.