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.

Merry Christmas to all our readers!

As we approach the end of another strange year, we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. We had hoped to celebrate the holidays with a feeling that life was returning to normal, but Omicron has rapidly sent Scottish football into reverse gear.

We hope that the new restrictions are short-lived, and that we will all be able to celebrate New Year together in the stands and on the terraces with only a short delay. In the meantime, stay safe and look after those close to you.

To play or not to play, that was the question...

In light of this week's news that football matches in Scotland will be subject to a 500 fan limit for 3 weeks, we received numerous media requests for comment. Some of these focused on the impact on specific games, or whether the restrictions would give an advantage to specific clubs, but we were keen not to engage on these issues - the restrictions (whether we agree with them or not) are intended to keep us safe and minimise transmission of the Omicron variant at a time of year when emergency services are under great strain.

With infection numbers rising rapidly, we expected new restrictions to be introduced, and raised a number of questions in response:

  • We are keen to understand the process and timeline for coming out of these restrictions - will it be back to "normal" after 3 weeks, or a gradual return?
  • While these restrictions are in place, it is important that streaming services etc are accessible and affordable to all fans. What financial and logistical support can be provided to clubs to ensure this happens?
  • Our clubs have worked hard to comply with all previous Covid mitigation measures, at significant cost. These latest restrictions will impact their finances substantially. What compensation will be made available to them for reduced revenues during this new lockdown?

It was encouraging to see the SPFL clubs act quickly and in a spirit of solidarity, despite media attempts to play clubs off against each other. With the winter break imminent it made great sense for the Premiership clubs to bring their break forward. Below the top tier it was perhaps a more difficult decision, with many clubs seeing a 500 fan limit as only a small reduction on their normal attendances. However, the clubs acted quickly - with many taking steps to engage their supporters in the decision-making process - and collectively agreed to continue playing during the 3 week period of restrictions.

As many clubs in the lower divisions of the SPFL and in the pyramid leagues commented in response to some myopic statements by media figures, football with small crowds is not "a misery" - it brings joy to everyone involved. If you are unable to attend your own club's festive fixtures, pay a visit to another of your local teams (who can be found via our Scottish Football Pyramid Map) - most of us have several clubs on our doorstep who would love to welcome us in.

Scottish football is about all 42 SPFL clubs, the 240+ clubs playing in tiers 5-8 of the pyramid, the 17 SWPL clubs, and the hundreds of clubs playing in every community around our country, and at every age level. Let's try to get as many of these up to the magic 500 mark as we can!!!

Another shortened season??? We need to be prepared...

With the peak of Omicron infections expected in late January / early February, there is no guarantee that the current restrictions will end after 3 weeks, or that there will not be further disruption to the league programme beyond that. We believe that Scottish football should act now to agree a robust plan for the remainder of the season, with clubs agreeing now what should happen in each of the following scenarios:

  • If the 500 limit is required for more than 3 weeks
  • If a gradual relaxation of the 500 limit is required, rather than an immediate “return to normal” after 3 weeks
  • If the season cannot be completed – we should get agreement now about the process and criteria for promotion/relegation, rather than waiting until we’re in that position

Each of these scenarios impacts supporters as well as clubs, and we are ready and willing to help the Scottish FA and SPFL in charting a smooth and fair path through whatever uncertainty our national game faces.

Tackling online racism

A reader asked us to share this blog post with you, as they had found it to be a useful resource both for those who have been a victim of online racism and for those who have witnessed it and not know what to do about it.

Help us strengthen Scottish football

Like most organisations, the financial pressures on SD Scotland intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, and posed a real threat to our ability to continue our work with supporters groups and grassroots sports clubs. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic we began re-thinking our business model, and were working to expand our commercial activities. Our goal was, and remains, to reduce our reliance on grant funding whilst continuing to advocate for greater supporter engagement and involvement in the governance of our clubs and of the national game.

However, the commercial environment has changed and this has impacted us significantly. We have therefore expanded our Patreon crowdfunding programme, and any contributions (as small or as large as you can afford) that you are able to make to our work will make a massive difference to us. We have introduced three new tiers, with merchandise featuring our "football without fans is nothing" graphic in order for us to recognise your contributions:

  • Bronze tier supporters (donating £5 per month) will receive a sticker
  • Silver tier supporters (donating £12.50 per month) will receive a coffee mug
  • Gold tier supporters (donating £20 per month) will receive a t-shirt

Patreon supporters automatically become Associate Members of SD Scotland:

  1. You’ll be joining a network of fans and supporters groups working to ensure that supporters' voices are heard and influence positive change within the game.
  2. Receive regular updates on issues affecting Scottish football and/or its fans.
  3. Get free access to our events such as Annual Supporters Summit.
  4. Get involved in the democratic structures of Supporters Direct Scotland as one of our three Associate Directors.

Sign up as a Patreon supporter here.

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 recent stories.

  1. Stay Safe At The Football During This Festive Period
  2. Scotland National Senior Sides Should Have SLOs
  3. Loving Livi’s Support Of Local Teams
  4. We Need To Nip Fan Trouble In The Bud
  5. SFA Should Follow Danish FA’s Lead If We Get To Next Year’s World Cup
  6. What A Day For Che
  7. Finally Scotland Don’t Do It The Scotland Way… And I Love It!
  8. Tribute To Walter Smith

We also visited picturesque Cappielow recently to speak to Morton Club Together about their club's recent move into community ownership - hear what they had to say here:

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

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.

Supporters Direct Scotland

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64A Cumberland Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6RE

01324 323282




Want to have your say? Contact us at info@supporters-direct.scot