Scottish football fans 'should have greater say in clubs'

Firpark, Motherwell fans and Hearts fans Image copyright SNS

Football fans should get a bigger say in the day-to-day running of clubs, according to Scotland's sports minister.

Jamie Hepburn said he believed the move would make the Scottish game stronger.

The Scottish government is currently carrying out a public consultation on supporter involvement in football clubs.

In a speech at Hampden, Mr Hepburn said fan involvement and, in some cases, ownership "does work".

It comes after the Scottish Football Supporters Association called for a national conversation on "sweeping changes".

About 10,000 fans responded to a survey run last year by the SFSA about the future of the game.

'Powerful and persuasive case'

The group, which has a membership of around 46,000 people, has produced a manifesto based in part on the responses, setting out how to "renew, reform and reclaim" football for fans and communities.

It was launched in the Scottish Parliament last week with backing from former first minister Henry McLeish and Green MSP Alison Johnstone, among others.

The Transforming Scottish Football document contains nine key points, including rebuilding the game with larger leagues, expanding community ownership, more diversity and participation in the governing bodies.

A consultation on supporter involvement remains open until 15 January and Mr Hepburn has urged more people to take part.

Speaking at the Supporters Direct Scotland Supporters' Summit at Hampden Park, he said: "I firmly believe there is a powerful and persuasive case for supporter involvement and - where appropriate - ownership of their clubs.

"It is commonplace in the Bundesliga (German league) so often held up as an example of best practice on and off the field.

"And supporter involvement and ownership is gaining momentum here in Scotland too. Hearts and Motherwell are pursuing high-profile fan ownership models, while other clubs like Clyde, Dunfermline and Stirling Albion have led the way.

"So fan involvement and ownership can - and does - work."

The sports minister said the government would analyse and assess the findings of its consultation and then publish a report.

He added: "Then we will work closely with the football authorities, clubs and - of course - supporters and supporters' groups to consider the best way forward."

Alison Johnstone said: "We are one step away from scoring a huge win for Scottish clubs and their fans, and we must not let this chance slip by.

"In countries like Sweden and Germany, fan ownership is the norm - and their football clubs are more sustainable as a result."

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