Scottish football survey reveals fans want bigger top league

 

A majority of fans want a larger top flight, according to the first Scottish National Football Survey.

Commissioned by the Scottish FA, the findings are published at a time when the country's two main league bodies are considering league reconstruction.

Clubs are assessing proposals for a 12-12-18 set-up, with the top two divisions splitting into three tiers of eight midway through the season.

This would replace the 12-10-10-10 model currently in use.

The Scottish Premier League will vote on the issue later this month and, if approved, members of the Scottish Football League will also decide whether to change the make-up of the senior leagues.

"Naturally, league reconstruction is the hot topic among the supporters at the moment and while the numbers remain subjective, the overwhelming majority of fans believe a single league body, fairer financial distribution and pyramid are essential in any reconstruction process," said SFA chief executive Stewart Regan.

Selected survey findings

  • Scottish fans favour, in general, a larger top division but consider a single league body, fairer financial distribution and three-league senior set-up to be key elements of any reconstruction
  • Scottish football fans ultimately judge the Scottish Football Association by the performance of the national team. The team is widely regarded to be underachieving, and the Scottish FA will be perceived by supporters as performing well as an organisation, once Scotland qualifies for a major tournament
  • As the sport's governing body, the Scottish FA is seen as most responsible for improving football in Scotland, whilst fans encourage more communication between the organisation and established supporters groups

"While ultimately it is a matter for the league bodies to decide on, the feedback from supporters is in line with the Scottish FA's view and I am sure the results of the report will be taken on board by the respective bodies."

In the survey, 87 per cent of fans said they wanted to see a top division made up of more teams.

It also found that the men's national side was regarded as "seriously underachieving" while the women's team is "performing as expected or overachieving".

Scotland's men currently sit bottom of their World Cup qualifying group and cannot reach next year's finals in Brazil.

The women's team narrowly missed out on a place in this summer's Uefa Women's Championship.

"The survey has shown that the success of the national Men's A Squad is inextricably linked to the perceived success or otherwise of the Scottish FA as the governing body," said Regan.

"This has been a traditional perception that we have worked hard to dispel and we will continue to promote the other areas that come under our jurisdiction: Scottish Cup, performance strategy, grassroots development, referee development, compliance and club licensing to name just a few of our focus areas."

There was little agreement among the near-7,000 supporters who took part in the survey over what was considered an ideal fixture calendar.

The current August-May season received the most support (39%), with July-May with a winter break (30%) and March-November (28%) the other popular choices.

"In general, the National Football Survey has provided us in the first year with some excellent baseline data from which the Scottish FA, the league bodies and Supporters Direct Scotland can shape future objectives and measure the success of our existing and ongoing strategic goals," added Regan.

"I would like to thank all who participated in what will become an annual survey."