Football must be in the hands of fans and communities

With fan participation we can make our national game even more beautiful.

Fans must be at the forefront of our beautiful game, says the Scottish Greens spokesperson for sport, Gillian Mackay MSP.

Speaking in a member’s debate on Enhancing Scottish Football, Ms Mackay will call for the sport to be made more accessible to fans, with all men’s and women’s international matches broadcast on free-to-view TV, more support for women’s football and structures to boost community ownership and ensure fans have a strong input into their clubs.

Ms Mackay will say: “We have such a passionate supporter base here in Scotland and it’s vital that we recognise that fans are the lifeblood of our game. We must ensure they can have an ownership stake and a strong voice in how their clubs are run, and that they have a strong input into how the game is structured and governed.

“The antiquated and undemocratic process of ‘procession to office’ of the President of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) should be removed and replaced with a fair voting structure whereby both clubs and season ticket holders can vote for nominated candidates from both inside and outside football.”

Ms Mackay has led calls for Scottish international football matches to be shown on free-to-view TV. Ms Mackay will say: “If we want children to look up to our athletes or be inspired by them then they need to be able to see them in action.

“That’s why I have called on the SFA to work with broadcasters to ensure that Scotland international fixtures are placed on free-to-view TV channels. Steve Clarke and the boys have done the nation proud, but due to the games only being shown on subscription services, not everybody was able to experience it. This must change.”

Reflecting on the growing success of women’s football, Ms Mackay will say: “Our women’s game continues to go from strength to strength. In the Premier League last season, the title race went down to the very last game of the season, with three teams within touching distance of the trophy. We witnessed record crowds at various grounds, and we saw the first women’s ties played at Celtic Park and Ibrox. Long may this continue.

“We do however need to tackle the ongoing issues women in football are facing. In recent months we have seen a sustained amount of abuse towards women commentators and pundits. This has to stop and there is a duty on all of us to call it out where and when we see it.”

Ms Mackay will finish: “Fans contribute over 50% of the revenue to our game. This should be recognised in order to support a positive culture change across the game and to bring an additional focus on football as Scotland’s national sport, and showcase it to the world as progressive, democratic, attractive and not afraid to do things differently.”