By Stuart Whigham
The prospect of Scottish independence has remained a salient issue within the domain of Scottish and British politics, despite the failure of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) to achieve sufficient electoral support for the proposition in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Indeed, further succour for advocates of Scottish independence has emerged due to the outcome of the UK-wide referendum on European Union (EU) membership which resulted in a victory for anti-EU ‘Leave’ campaign, despite strong electoral support in Scotland to ‘Remain’ in the EU as evident in the referendum results. The EU referendum result has therefore been portrayed as further evidence of the Scottish ‘democratic deficit’ which has been argued to impact political representation for the Scottish electorate within the UK (Dalle Mulle, 2016; Ichijo, 2009; Leith and Soule, 2011; Mycock, 2012), with the SNP citing the EU referendum outcome as a potential catalyst for a second Scottish independence referendum in the coming years, with the autumn of 2018 having been cited as a possible date for a second referendum.
Given the growing likelihood of a second Scottish independence referendum, this paper will critically discuss the current academic literature on the interconnection between Scottish nationalism and the domain of sport, and particularly, football support. In particular, this paper will explore the contentions of certain authors that the ethno-religious, socioeconomic and political stratification of supporters of certain football clubs such as Celtic and Rangers may be linked to their personal voting dispositions with regards to the prospect of Scottish independence (Armstrong, 2014; Bissett and McKillop, 2014; Bradley, 1997, 2013; Giulianotti, 2007; Kelly, 2007, 2013; Walker, 2014, 2016). These findings will be discussed in light of an ongoing research project which seeks to further explore the interconnection between football club support and political voting in the Scottish context, drawing upon a mixed-methods approach which utilises large-scale polling preference data and follow-up interviews which explore the potential interconnection between football support and political beliefs.
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