Given the passions the sport arouses in so many people at both club and country level across Scotland, you might be surprised to learn that we are the only nation in Europe that does not have an independent organisation representing its many football supporters.
While it must be acknowledged that the group Supporters Direct has made some in-roads into giving normal fans a greater voice within the game, its membership was limited to a handful of professional and junior club trusts and it was restricted by a governance structure based outside Scotland which further limited its powers.
It is now hoped that the creation of a new body, the Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA), will fill the gap and enable fans of the game in Scotland to have a stronger influence through access to a wider network of European supporters groups.
The aims of the SFSA (are straightforward enough: to improve, reform and ultimately ‘reclaim the game’ for supporters and communities. Who within the football loving community can argue with that? Achieving this will require, among other things, unity from supporters across the spectrum, which can never be taken for granted in the often tribal world of Scottish football.
What is encouraging is that the SFSA is breaking down these barriers and has already received active interest from fan groups representing 42,000 members across Scotland. It has also attracted a number of influential figures in the game to rally to the cause of the common fan and, with their support, will be seeking to persuade the Scottish Football Association to get behind the new fans organisation to help it grow and prosper.
With world football severely tainted by allegations of corruption and cronyism at its highest level and the game in Scotland becoming increasingly less accessible to many fans, the time is right for a fresh approach. The long-term survival of many football clubs can only be assured through their supporters. By capturing their collective energy and ideas, the new SFSA can help ensure Scottish football has a better future by empowering its most important asset.
This article first appeared in The Scotsman on 30th October 2015.
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