Welcome to the Scottish Supporters Network newsletter, brought to you by Supporters Direct Scotland. This newsletter aims to bring our members closer together and better informed of news and best practice from across the network.

Football Is Back!

With the return of the Premiership just over a week away, shortened lower league seasons due to start in October, the 2019/20 Scottish Cup Final rescheduled for December 20th, and the men's and women's national teams having a busy run of fixtures ahead of them, it's a massive relief to see that top-level football is back.

Outside of the SPFL and in grassroots and recreational football the picture is less clear, but we are hopeful that Phase 4 of the Scottish Government's loosening of lockdown will bring some good news for the tens thousands of people across the country who would usually be playing football every week.

For supporters though, there is still no clarity about when we will be allowed to return to the stands and terraces. We have been working hard behind the scenes throughout lockdown to help ensure that the needs of supporters are given priority by the game's decision makers, and have forged some great relationships through these conversations. It has been encouraging to see the whole of Scottish football working to the same principles - that our safety and welfare is paramount, and that our return to spectating is managed carefully and responsibly.

Today's news that the Scotland men's team fixture against Israel might be used as test event is an important step in our return. With this Nation's League fixture being a dress rehearsal for our Euro 2020 play-off semi-final a month later, it feels that there's more than a half chance of a decent crowd being able to support the team through this hugely important fixture - and the final which will hopefully follow it in November.

We have also advocated for each stadium being assessed individually, to ensure that every club is able to bring as many supporters as possible back, as safely as possible, and as quickly as possible. Simplistic approaches to this - along the lines we have seen in other countries where capacities have been reduced by the same percentage at every stadium - run the risk of putting cash before safety. SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell's preference for each stadium holding test events is welcomed, and while some of us may be frustrated that other leagues are re-starting before us, and bringing fans back sooner than us, we strongly believe that Scottish football should do this right, rather than doing it too quickly and putting our welfare at risk.

Scottish football fans need to stick together

With every twist in the conclusion of the 2019/20 season - from proposals and counter-proposals being put to the 42 SPFL clubs, court hearings, arbitration and now disciplinary action - the supporters have been bystanders. But increasingly we have been drawn into the dispute... in discussion forums, social media, and over the last couple of weeks in socially-distanced pub debates. We all love our clubs, and want to back them up, but we were never asked how we wanted the season to finish - and we must not allow this to divide us.

When football resumes our attention should be on the 22 players on the field, rather than the arcane rulebooks that govern our game.

Greenock Morton on course to become a fan-owned club

Earlier this month, fans group Morton Club Together struck a landmark agreement with the Rae family to take over majority shareholding from their company Golden Casket.

The takeover is scheduled to take place next summer, and will see the club sold to Morton Club Together for a nominal fee, with ownership of Cappielow remaining with Golden Casket, who will write off the club's debt in its entirety.

A key feature of this deal is that Morton Club Together will spend the next year working closely with the club's board and staff to fully understand the intricacies of the club's business, with each party gaining confidence that this deal will be the best way forward for the club. This is a path that several other clubs have followed, and that we've characterised as 'structured transitions' towards supporter ownership. The fans' groups at Motherwell, Hearts and St Mirren have all worked alongside individual owners in this way, demonstrating that securing supporter ownership can be, in the words of Greenock Morton chairman Crawford Rae, the final act of devotion to their club.

SD Scotland Membership Renewals Underway

The SD Scotland membership renewal process began at the start of this month, and we are delighted to see existing members renewing, as well as welcoming new members.

Membership is open to any democratically constituted supporters group or community owned club for £50 per year, and can be done easily via GoCardless. Individuals can join as associate members by signing up to our Patreon programme.

We are currently making plans for our AGM, which has been delayed due to the lockdown restrictions. It is still unclear whether we will be able to do this with a face-to-face event, but will finalise details and communicate these to members during August.

News from Europe

Fans' organisations from across Europe call for involvement in the future of football

Our partners across Europe, through the umbrella organisation Football Supporters Europe, called for supporter involvement in three core pillars:

  • The safe return of supporters
  • A recognition that the contribution made by fans is irreplaceable
  • Multi-stakeholder dialogue on the future of football

You can read more about these priorities here.

Returning to football: an SLO's experience

We look forward, once the COVID-19 lockdown is behind us, to bringing the UEFA Academy's SLO training programme (facilitated by SD Europe) to Scotland. We have a particularly active and well-established SLO network here in Scotland, and our connections to this work across the continent are hugely beneficial to supporter engagement in Scotland.

SD Europe's head of SLO training, Lena Gustafson-Wiberg, recently wrote about her experiences as SLO for Djurgårdens IF and the Swedish national team here

Club Development Scotland - building clubs that win for everyone

Although Covid-19 may have put a temporary stop to playing football, our Club Development Scotland work has continued throughout the lock down period. CDS, the consultancy arm of SD Scotland, develops resources and provides a range of services for community sports clubs of all shapes and sizes.

During the lockdown, we’ve been continuing to advise clubs on a range of matters including financial support available to them while their activities (and potentially income) are on hold - you can access this advice here. We’ve also been pleased to support the roll out of Our Club Lotto, a fundraising lottery that can be tailor suited to your club to help raise vital funds during this difficult time.

We’ve also been making the most of the lockdown to support clubs with a range of services including assisting and advising on club constitutions, legal structures, gift aid and charitable status. If you’d like to find out more how we could help you grow a winning club, get in touch or subscribe to our newsletter at http://www.clubdevelopment.scot/about/newsletters.

Think Twice Or You’ll Bet Regret It

We know that many of you will be at home, potentially struggling to fill the time, feeling a little isolated or anxious. In these times we’ll often turn to various forms of distraction to help the day pass, but placing risky impulsive bets shouldn’t be one of them.

In these difficult times the safer gambling message is perhaps more important than ever. Please remember to Think Twice or You’ll Bet Regret It.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried about your gambling at the moment the National Gambling Helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 8020 133 for free, confidential advice and support.

And finally...

Articles, podcasts and videos from the archive

As part of our objective to better connect fans, share best practice within Scottish sport, to promote supporter dialogue and promote sport clubs through which positive societal change can occur, here we share some relevant stories from the past month.

  1. Getting Excited About Scottish Football Again
  2. Tartan Army Should Welcome Lyndon Dykes If He Chooses Scotland
  3. It’s Time Scottish Football Embraced The Rooney Rule
  4. SPFL Could’ve Respected Pyramid System Had They Promoted Brora Rangers & Kelty Hearts
  5. Clubs Urged To Do The Right Thing
  6. Killie Hitting The Right Notes On Social Media
  7. Permanent League Reconstruction Finally Up For Debate
  8. Saluting James Anderson’s Wonderful Gesture
  9. To B Or Not To B Team?
  10. Everyone At Every Level Will Be Desperate To See A Return To Football

You can also check out our back catalogue of podcast episodes and subscribe to Behind The Goals using your favoured ‘podcatcher’ here.

With Covid-19 taking hold of Scottish football, fans can step up and help the most vulnerable clubs. This short video has some ideas about you can help.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see more!

Supporters Direct Scotland are committed to helping football supporters enjoy responsible gambling; for many this is an integral part of their match day experience.

We have selected GamCare as our recommended support service for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. GamCare operate the National Gambling Helpline (whose advisers are available on 0808 8020 133 or via web chat at www.gamcare.org), provide treatment for problem gamblers and their families, create awareness about responsible gambling and treatment, and encourage an effective approach to responsible gambling within the gambling industry.

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