Ryan Gallacher and Gary Kirkpatrick, 4th Year UWS Sports Journalism
Fan involvement is one of the main topics of this year’s Football Collective.
The overarching theme of the 2018 edition of the conference is ‘Challenging the Narrative’.
As an example of that theme, fan involvement is one of the main issues being discussed and was the focus of presentations by Andrew Jenkin and Joshua McLeod.
Andrew looked at the growth and future fan ownership of football clubs, whilst Joshua researched the potential of ‘fan directors’ within the sport.
Speaking about the growth of fan involvement, Andrew said: “I think supporters are one of the biggest, if not the biggest shareholders of any club.
“They are the ones that make the club tick, generate income and have been there for the longest.
“I think it’s important that it gets academic attention as to how they are represented within their clubs, whether that be through supporter ownership or a fan director.”
Joshua, a lecturer at the University College of Football Business, spoke about the increasing number of ‘fan directors’ in football, with 18 clubs in Scotland now utilising them: “Most (fan directors) are accepted onto the board.
“I think there are some cases where it is tokenism and the other directors on the board don’t take them seriously and they aren’t given legitimacy.
“In the majority of cases, fan directors are treated with respect and they are treated as a proper part of their governance procedure.”
Andrew, a PhD student at Strathclyde University, also spoke about the growth of fan ownership in Scotland, with 12 clubs going into administration since the year 2000.
“The financial situation of Scottish football has a large part to play in it (the rise of fan ownership”, he said.
“A lot of clubs went through financial difficulties and there were a lot of instances where there were no potential buyers forthcoming.
“Fans have realised that in order to secure the long-term sustainability of their clubs, they’ve got to step up to the plate and take on that ownership
“The Foundation of Hearts have gone through that process, Stirling Albion has too. So I think other clubs will want to follow suit.
Joshua added: “There’s a much greater realisation in Scottish football about the type of finance available to Scottish clubs.
“Football businesses in Scotland thrive from their local communities and from that, I think it’s logical that fans take a prominent role in the governance of football clubs here”
It, therefore, seems certain that fan involvement will continue to rise in Scotland.
The Football Collective conference continues at Hampden today and tomorrow. (29th And 30th November)
This post is part of a series of articles from the University of West of Scotland Sports Journalism students who are covering the Football Collective’s “Changing the Narrative” conference in Glasgow, at Hampden, Scotland’s National Stadium.