By Chris Macmillan
The findings of the first independent research into Scottish football governance were revealed this afternoon at Firhill, home of Partick Thistle Football Club.
More than 16,000 fans, players, officials and stakeholders from clubs across the Scottish footballing pyramid responded to the survey, that was compiled by the Scottish Football Supporters Association and leading German sports academics, Professor Dr. Axel Faix and Dr. Joachim Lammert.
The survey, one of the largest of its kind, was carried out between July and September this year, and is the first stage of research into the perceived wide chasm between the fans and institutions in the Scottish game, with the aim of being able to open the door for the future.
Some of the key findings of the study uncover that the principle reality is that fans are dissatisfied with several different aspects of football in the country, including the leadership of both the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Professional Football League.
In addition, 95% of fans believe it is essential to have an independent national fans body, over 90% want more supporter influence in the SFA and the SPFL and 90% believe that the Scottish Government should put pressure on football authorities to improve.
The results also show that fans are happier with the transparency of their clubs compared to the governing bodies. However, a worrying statistic was that 60% of fans felt that there was a risk of them losing interest in football altogether.
Henry McLeish, former First Minister and SFSA board member, said “The fact that over 60% of fans say that they could end up leaving the game in the future rings a major alarm bell.
“Trust in the games governing structures is worryingly low, so much so that a significant number now believe that the Scottish Government should be stepping in to help address the problem.”
The word distrust appears frequently throughout the findings, as the SFA is ranked lower than UEFA and FIFA, a damning indictment that the fans think far less of the national sports governing body.
Simon Barrow (pictured), Chairman of the SFSA, applauded the research and believes that the fans have taken this opportunity to speak out about the condition of Scottish football.
“This is the first fully independent, professional research into perceptions of how the Scottish game is run in 144 years. It highlights many areas of concern, but equally indicates that the time is ripe for change and supporter engagement.
“Whether it’s commercial aspects of the game, the performance or our national sides or overall governance and transparency, this is a challenge and chance to listen more carefully to what fans, who remain the game’s vital customers, have to say and to offer. Played the right way, this could be football’s democratic moment.”