Football supporters across Scotland will be encouraged this weekend to back the campaign for a National Fans Charter.
Leaflets carrying information on the charter, which was drawn up following an extensive survey of fans from all clubs last year, will be distributed at most league games today and tomorrow, with the hope being that support will grow for the project so that clubs and governing bodies will adopt the initiative and begin to liaise more closely with their supporters.
More than 6000 fans took part in last year's survey, and the results revealed that there is overwhelming support for a national fans charter addressing issues such as fan involvement at games – flags, singing, banners – safety and security, as well as general behaviour. A majority of fans declared a good atmosphere was most likely to increase their enjoyment, along with singing and meeting friends, while fixture changes, cost and lack of atmosphere were the three issues most likely to decrease their enjoyment.
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From the survey results, a draft charter was drawn up by James Proctor, the former head of Supporters Direct Scotland who was seconded to the SFA to work on this project. Now that the charter has been formally agreed, the intention is to raise awareness among the wider football fanbase in Scotland, with the hope that it will eventually be embraced by all clubs and governing bodies.
"There's two stages to this, and the first is making people more aware of it," Proctor said. "Then the next stage will be how clubs and fans decide to use this document to improve their relationship.
"The key phrase is making football better. There are thousands of fans who go week after week, across the country, to games. We all want more fans to enjoy it and more people to come along, but when you really get down to talking to fans about their experiences, they're way more positive about what football means to them and sometimes we get caught up in the really difficult issues and it sounds as though everything is negative."
The idea behind the charter is essentially to improve the relationship between clubs and supporters. "Dialogue has to start somewhere," Proctor said. "Starting with the small things will inevitably lead to dialogue on the larger issues and a proper relationship between fans and clubs. If we're able to have that dialogue on the smaller issues first then we can take it from there and build on that."