We took part and exhibited at the Supporters Direct & Scottish Fans Annual Conference 2015 in Hampden Park, Glasgow. We had a chance to meet like-minded individuals, supporters’ trusts and organisations within the supporter movement, and to catch up with the latest events surrounding Scottish Fans.
Hampden Park looked magnificent on that Saturday morning. Home to the Scottish National Football Team and the amateur Scottish League Club Queen’s Park F.C., hundreds of Scottish supporters looked forward to discussing the new trends and current agenda of Scottish football. Both Supporters Direct Scotland and Scottish Fans set up a diverse agenda, covering a through update on the state of current affairs, but also bringing up innovative initiatives involving Scottish Supporters.
The first part of the Conference aimed at providing a 360 degrees overview on how Scottish Football has improved and acknowledged the importance of supporters by MSP Kenny MacAskill and Darryl Broadfoot of the SFA. In addition, David Longmuir (former SFL Head) brought to us a very interesting approach on how community business is becoming a blueprint of Scottish Football with the new cashback business that involves supporters funding football related campaigns at no cost. Many attendees were surprised with the quality of proposals the panel was bringing up: a larger league; penalty shootout before kickoff; no drawn games, and increased use of technological tools for matchday experience, fan engagement and communication amongst stakeholders.
The second part of the keynote presentations followed the same pattern. Martin Calladin, author of “The Ugly Game”, suggested the introduction of NFL measures into the “beautiful game”. Topics like the Rooney Rule or a Salary Cap were quite interesting proposals. Lastly, the case study of Annan Athletic as a community ownership success story, illustrated how both the club and town can largely benefit from this synergy.
¡The voice of the fans is starting to be heard through regular and innovative channels!
Welcome to the new #FanPower era!
We attended the Supporters Direct workshop, and boy was it insightful! The discussion was facilitated by Andrew Jenkin and supporters raised their voice! First, on the list of “hot topics” was ticket prices, and one particular aspect drew our attention: the high prices for the National Team matches. Usually supporters are concerned about single club issues, but it was interesting how the discussion included this topic. Furthermore, a call for a collective measure on away fans was introduced, with very interesting examples for the Scottish Football Pyramid: there are already arrangements between clubs, on which season ticket holders of both parties can attend at no cost or with at a discounted price the away match. A fan also mentioned an interesting marketing campaign that promised supporters to bring along one friend for free to the pitch if the game ended up in a 0-0 draw.
Safestanding couldn’t be left out of the conversation, especially given the recent media coverage on Celtic’s decision to introduce a rail seating system at Celtic Park. The future on implementing more “terraces” looks promising and we truly perceived a joint effort to progress on this issue. Lastly, Supporters Direct moderated a discussion regarding their Scottish Fans’ Survey, and amongst various topics one that stood out was the role of the organisation across Europe, with a planned restructuring that would facilitate a unified job on supporter representation.
FanVox was exhibiting in the common area and we really enjoyed it! We had the chance to talk with supporters, other exhibitors and attendees regarding the supporter movement and how we could facilitate a stronger voice and collective action through our platform. The exercise was really interesting; we listened and discussed around the current affairs and the need of a joint effort to create more spaces/tools to enrich the discussion and to make things happen.
It was very rewarding to notice how many supporters understood the vision of getting together to raise a stronger voice. Based on that assumption, we displayed a cardboard that encouraged visitors to leave their views regarding different topics affecting football. The FIFA scandal, TV money, grassroots, disabled groups, human rights and fan ownership made the list. Surprisingly, no one mentioned ticket prices as their current No.1 issue.
Amongst the exhibitors, the job Bala Sport is currently leading is very inspiring. Creating a fairtrade sports balls company is not an easy venture, yet it is very fulfilling as Angus Coull, Managing Director, mentioned. They do not only deliver high performance football and rugby balls, but they also help the workers in Pakistan through safe conditions at the ball factories and a fairer salary. On the other hand, we met again with our friends from the FREE PROJECT, a collaborative research project funded by the European Union, which aimed at understanding the impact of the beautiful game on diverse socio-political and economic spheres in Europe. At Hampden Park, they presented the results and you can take a look at their amazing work here.
In FanVox we are putting as much effort as we can on connecting all relevant and emerging stakeholders of the football supporters’ movement. Instances like the #SDSC15 are a proof that supporters are starting to go in the right direction and for us it was highly relevant to take part in this event for fans by fans. We congratulate Scottish Fans and Supporters Direct Scotland for an outstanding Conference!
Having that said, our vision encompasses the facilitation of a clearly defined fan action strategy so that the voice of the fans is amplified and delivers tangible results. We strongly believe that supporters are at the heart of the beautiful game and we want our voice back!
Next destination: the European Football Fans Congress in Belfast! See you there!
FanVox is the first fan action platform for football supporters. Connect. Speak Out. Make It Happen!
More info: fanvox.net