Club Development Scotland visits Kyleakin FC and football on the Isle of Skye


In the latest of our Club Development Scotland series, we paid a visit to Kyleakin FC, a village football side from the south of Skye and playing in the Skye and Lochalsh amateur league.

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Behind the Goals with Oliver Haltaway of the Big Bath City Bid

On this week’s Behind the Goals, Oliver Holtaway shared the Bath City story with us – they have been in community ownership for a year, following a two-year campaign known as “The Big Bath City Bid”.

Listen to find out about the ups and downs of the bid – and how they enlisted the help of a famous fan to make it a success!

Listen to the interview here:

Club Development Scotland visits Football Memories Scotland

Since starting out in 2009 Football Memories, which is based at Hampden Stadium, has achieved remarkable results with people with dementia across Scotland.

Now the Scotland-wide Football Memories Volunteer Network has won the Volunteer Team of the Year category at this year’s Museums + Heritage Awards organised by M+H Media

If you’re supportive of our work and the content we’re producing, please do consider supporting through a small monthly financial donation via our Patreon channel. We aim to keep all our resources, guidance and documents free of charge to ensure we can help support as many clubs and fans as possible. 


Behind the Goals with Jacqui Low of Partick Thistle

As part of our series of Club Development Scotland videos, we paid a visit to Partick Thistle to find out more about their recent women and girls fan engagement work, including the first ever survey of its female fans. Thistle will use the findings to create a strategy to retain and attract more girls and women to matches.

If you’re supportive of our work and the content we’re producing, please do consider supporting through a small monthly financial donation via our Patreon channel. We aim to keep all our resources, guidance and documents free of charge to ensure we can help support as many clubs and fans as possible. 


Club Development Scotland speaks to Foundation of Hearts

In this week’s Behind The Goals Podcast, we speak to Foundation of Heart Board Member Louise Strutt about fan ownership at Gorgie and the incredible achievements of the Foundation since their establishment.

The Foundation of Hearts (FoH) is the largest supporters’ movement in Scottish footballing history with a membership of around 8,000 individuals, all of whom contribute financially to the organisation. This financial contribution is used to provide working capital for the club.

A not-for-profit organisation, the Foundation was created in 2010 by a group of local businesspeople (Alex Mackie, Jamie Bryant, Brian Cormack, Donald Ford, Garry Halliday), all of whom are lifelong Hearts fans. They had a shared vision for the future which is based on bringing Heart of Midlothian back to the people who are truly passionate about this club – the fans.

In 2013, the Foundation was joined by all the Hearts supporters’ organisations – the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, the Heart of Midlothian Shareholders Association, the Heart of Midlothian Supporters’ Trust, Hearts Youth Development Committee (HYDC), and Save Our Hearts. Under the chairmanship of Ian Murray MP, this united group worked under the Foundation of Hearts ‘banner’ to take forward the vision of fan ownership.

In 2014, one of the Foundation’s own team, Ann Budge (through her specially created company, Bidco), successfully acquired the majority shareholding of the club. A legally binding agreement was put in place between Bidco and the Foundation which will deliver ultimate fan ownership – via the Foundation – over an anticipated five-year period of time. Doing so allows the club’s finances to be stabilised, and for there to be an orderly transition to supporter ownership. Bidco’s sole purpose is to deliver fan ownership and it will therefore not seek to make any personal gain through the process.

The position that Ann Budge/Bidco inherited was one of a club with no money in the bank, and the contribution from the Foundation has provided essential working capital at this difficult time. The Foundation signed up to providing £1.4 million in year 1 and £1.4 million in year 2. Monies raised over and above this will be accrued over the next years to repay the loan provided by Ann Budge of £2.5 million; the loan that effectively saved the club. This means that the total that the Foundation will require to raise in the five years since its inception will be £6.3 million.

In this podcast, we speak to Louise about the incredible achievements of the Foundation including looking at the steps that led to the Foundation’s formation, the new Tynecastle Development Fund and how the Foundation have successfully amassed and attained such a strong membership.

Remember, you can get in touch with the show by emailing or reaching us on Twitter.


Supporters Direct New Crowdfunding Platform Is Here!


We’re delighted to share our brand new crowdfunding platform to help you Build A Winning Club.

Our platform enables communities to raise capital for projects around their clubs, which could include ownership. This applies to all levels of sport in Scotland from professional clubs to grassroots community clubs.

Supporters Direct have worked with football supporters across the UK to help empower them to play a greater role in their club, through engagement, and ultimately ownership.

This new crowdfunding platform will offer supporters the opportunity to buy community shares in clubs online, with the use of ShareIn’s white label crowdfunding platform.

We hope this platform will enable us to support more and more clubs and organisations in achieving their ambitions, whether that be ownership of a club, development of an asset or simply coming together to raise much needed funds for valuable programmes. We’d encourage any club seeking to undertake a crowdfunding campaign to get in touch to find out how we can support them through our platform.

  • Make your dream a reality now and get in touch about how we can help you build a winning club. E-mail us at for more information.

Blog: You Can’t Improve What You Don’t Measure

‘It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.’ – John Maynard Keynes
Last year, I attended a two day training course on ‘Social Return on Investment’ (SROI). SROI is a process through which you can determine an approximate (this is important to note) financial value of the social and community work delivered relative to resources you’ve invested (often money).
The process through which a number is determined is somewhat complex and is based on a number of factors including how you rank values such as dignity, confidence and social cohesion against items which have a monetary value.
I will have been the bug bear of the class with the amount of questions I had about the process. Indeed, it is a difficult concept to get your head around when you’ve only worked with hard numbers and facts (such as we – OK, maybe just me – have become trained to do through funders’ requirements) especially when assumptions have to be made within the process.
Sure enough, each participant worked through the calculations and arrived at a monetary value for the outputs the activities had produced, which could then be compared against the cost of the financial input. See below for a sport related example which looks at the role of sport in creating change:
As the diagram shows – for every £1 invested, the programme was paying out £1.91 in ‘social value’.
Further more, the report stated:
“Sport and exercise prevent or reduce physical and mental health problems and save on health care costs. Furthermore, it found evidence that sports participation improves pro-social behaviour and reduces crime and anti-social behaviour, particularly for young men; promotes bonding social capital and collective action, particularly volunteering; and has a positive effect on educational outcomes, including psychological and cognitive benefits and educational attainment. There is also evidence of a positive relationship between sport participation and subjective wellbeing i.e. life satisfaction or happiness for individuals.”
These outputs have been reflected within the end number through the contribution and savings made on healthcare treatment through increased physical activity and social inclusion.
With the rise of ‘sport for change’ (see the next blog on Club Development for more) and with clubs across Scotland capable of contributing towards some of Scotland’s biggest societial issues (particularly around healthcare), clubs may wish to closer examine their role and impact within their communities through the production of such a report.
It’s worth noting that SROI is not the only form of social reporting, nor is it perfect. The end number can always be debated in some form (especially on account of the assumptions that will have be made by the reporter and there will a lack of consistency across every report in how the end number was calculated) and the amount of time required by a member of staff to gather and analyse the required impact data can feel prohibitive.  However, that said, one phrase from the training session has stuck with me and ultimately inspired me to write this blog:
“It is better to be roughly right than exactly wrong”.
Despite its imperfections, the more we know – the more we can improve. The process doesn’t just help organisations understand their benefit, but also whether there is any displacement or unintended consequences arising through their activities while further connecting and increasing the engagement between deliverer and service user.
We’re keen to support clubs through what can be a complicated process and are looking to undertake a couple of case studies with clubs that are delivering grassroots community led work. If you’d like to benefit from some free professional support through this, please do contact us at Club Development Scotland. 
By Andrew Jenkin
Head of Club Development Scotland

Fairtrade: A Game Changer for Football

If the revelations being squeezed out of the FIFA scandal have taught me anything, it is that some people cannot be trusted to maintain a level of integrity within football. Some of the people who ought to be protecting and raising the standards, expectations and levels of trust within the game have been caught doing quite the opposite for their own interests. It would be easy to feel disillusioned with football, I believe there is a another way forward for the global development of football, one which looks not only at the bottom line, but that double bottom line and impact of finance and people.

As someone who has played, watched, worked in and loved football since my Dad took me to my first game aged 5, I believe governed properly, football really can be a force for economic, social and community good. No more evident has that been for me than in the last five days.

The first Fairtrade certified sports balls were produced in 1998, however, over the last fifteen years the production and sales of Fairtrade certified sports balls has failed to match the exponential growth in Fairtrade labelled products globally.

Through my work with Supporters Direct Scotland, I was invited onto a working group interested in the establishment of a non for profit social enterprise selling and raising awareness of Fairtrade footballs.


The objectives of the organisation are:

  • To benefit the workers involved in the manufacture of sports balls
  • Enhance the health and well being of their users
  • Educate the public about FairTrade in general

Since those initial working group meetings, we’ve established a Community Benefit Society (a legal structure which protects assets for the purpose of which they were attained), raised over £100,000 via a Community Share Offer (through which people were encouraged to make a social investment in the enterprise), started trading as ‘Bala Sport’ and ordered over 8,000 balls as an initial stock.

Within this process, the working group became the founding Directors of the organisation and within this role I was fortunate enough to be invited to visit Pakistan where our balls have been produced and where, through the Fairtrade certification Bala and football production factory possess, Fairtrade benefits have been making that double bottom line of people and profits.

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Sialkot single handedly produces around 70% of the world’s footballs annually (about 29 million footballs) and gained celebrity status when it produced the “Tango Ball” used in FIFA World cup in 1982 and last year produced the Adidas ‘Brazuca’ for the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Pakistan has its well documented problems. There are ongoing disputes with its neighbours India regarding the ownership of Kashmir (during our stay, shelling continued between the two and there are areas close to the border of Pakistan that foreigners are prohibited from entering), natural disasters to contend with (such as Monday’s 8.1 earthquake which effected more western parts of Pakistan, although factories in Sialkot were evacuated and two people within the city sadly died) and wide spread deprivation.

Deprivation is not unique to Pakistan. 94% of the world’s income goes to 40% of the people, while the other 60% must live on only 6% of world income. Half the world lives on two dollars a day or less, while almost a billion people live on less than one dollar a day.

This is where Fairtrade and Bala Sport can and will make a difference. A stitcher making a Fairtrade football earns twice as much per ball as they do for a non-Fairtrade football. Buying a Fairtrade football removes you from an economy which treats children and their families unfairly. Additionally each Fairtrade certified sports ball producer has to have a Fairtrade Premium Committee comprising representatives of factory workers and stitchers. The Fairtrade Premium Committee consults with those they represent and decides upon the best use of the Fairtrade Premium money.

During our stay, we’ve visited a handful of factories. Some are Fairtrade certified, others are not. What is interesting is that the factories that are Fairtrade certified also produce the non Fairtrade balls such as Adidas, Nike. Puma and Sondico – but the workers are underpaid (usually below the minimum wage) and overworked.

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During our stay we’ve visited some of the projects that Fairtrade premiums have helped fund. These include projects and initiatives for the workers such as:

  • Free eye care and check ups (with workers getting a chance to purchase cheap glasses if required, of which around 40% do)
  • Water purification points (with open access to workers and the local community)
  • A free bus for female workers so they can get to and from the factories
  • Free Hepatitis B & C checks (and paid treatment if required)

One factory owner said in conversation “the workers are our assets, not our liabilities” – and these projects, funded through Fairtrade football purchases go to show it. These go to show the difference Fairtrade can make in addressing the issue of deprivation and have tangible benefits which many people (there are thousands of stitchers within Sialkot) can benefit from if there factory is a fair trade certified one.

However, the workers only get the benefit of the premium when people purchase Fairtrade footballs, drumming home the importance of increasing awareness of Bala within the UK.

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The process of stitching is an art form and each of the workers are highly skilled individuals plying their trade on a daily basis. Although, the industry of football production is evolving. New technologies have signaled a shift from hand stitched balls to hybrid balls which use a combination of machinery and people (albeit fewer). Competition from China also offers a threat to the livelihoods for many of these stitchers.

While some of the factory managers feel there are opportunities for the younger workforce to utilise the growing technology that will compliment ball production, there is a fear some of the older stitchers may not be able to adjust to the shift and learn the new skills required. It is not yet known whether or when the purely hand stitched positions may be redundant, but with machinery able to produce more footballs at lower costs, it would be difficult for factories to ignore their emergence for long.

However, generally, I’ll leave Sialkot feeling inspired for I’ve been fortunate to see how, through people purchasing Fairtrade sports balls, Bala are helping to improve the lives of many people. I’ve been reminded of the joy and benefits football can bring to people, society and communities, as shown by the photo below, which I took at an orphanage we visited and donated balls to.



You can buy your own Bala ball at now

BLOG: Barcelona and being more than a Multi Sport Club



Last week I was fortunate enough to visit the Nou Camp – which for me, as a football aficionado, was the highlight of my fleeting visit to Barcelona. The Nou Camp will feature on every fans’ Stadium ‘To-Do List’ and if it doesn’t, it perhaps should do. It was marketed as the ‘Nou Camp Experience’ and although somewhat pricey I didn’t begrudge the €23 entry fee for museum and stadium tour, as it was that fee alone for the view of the stadium from pitch side.

What struck me instantly upon walking through the gates was that this was essentially football’s answer to Disneyland with a whole village of complexes, merchandise stalls, eateries and bars surrounding you as you head to the jewel in the crown. This is something I’d be keen to see further within Scottish sport – stadiums at the heart of a community.

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As you walk out of the tunnel onto the pitch and take in just what an incredible stadium the Nou Camp is, you are instantly struck with the words ‘Mes Que Un Club’ spelt out in yellow within the stands. ‘More Than A Club’. The club was created by foreigners and soon became a focal point for Catalonism, and when Francisco Franco banned the use of the Catalan language, the stadium of Barcelona became one of the few places the people could express their dissatisfaction, thus showing the ways in which sport and politics and wider society interact on so many levels.


Beyond the history of what differentiates it from others, it was the founder’s approach to being a ‘Multi Sport Club’, commitment to social responsibility and governance that really sets it aside.

FC Barcelona have a rink hockey department, an ice hockey team, a rugby league team, a basketball team and a futsal team (they also previously had a baseball team). The whole sport campus in which the stadium is based acts as a home for its other sports and the games of the other teams are advertised and promoted across the city, although they might not receive the level of attention the football club gets (which isn’t an issue unique to Spanish culture).

I like this approach and it’s something I’d be keen to see more clubs adopt within Scotland. What we can most relate this to is the rise in Community Sport Hubs, with clubs sharing assets and making them viable social enterprises through their cooperative approach. I like it not just from a sustainability perspective, but a developmental point of view for young people.

At the Scottish FA Convention last year, I was able to hear from the Assistant Manager of the Icelandic football team who spoke about their approach to youth development. Whereas in the UK, young children are often shoehorned into a sport and expected to play that sport alone, in Iceland, children play various sports until the age of 16, at which point they’ve developed a wider range of techniques and skills.

The club’s commitment to being more than a club also reaches their social responsibilities and they’re renowned for once paying Unicef to host their logo upon their shirt (very rare in the modern day where clubs think mainly as businesses, rather than assets of community and social benefit). The club continues to work with Unicef using sport as a tool for social development (sport’s ability to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals is worthy of a blog to itself) and their work and partnership is proudly displayed within the museum.

Finally what interested me about the ‘Barca Experience’ is the club’s pride in being a democratic member owned club. While there may be some issues about how you would come to run in an election to the be the club President, it’s important to note that is operated on a ‘one member – one vote’ system which in a day and age of clubs being public limited companies, is commendable its stayed true to its member owned roots (again, this is worthy of its own blog).

On display at the ‘Camp Nou Experience’.


Our learnings? 

  • Member owned clubs can work at any level of sport (it’s not just for small clubs!)
  • Multi Sport Clubs and Community Sport Hubs can help young people develop and they shouldn’t be pigeon holed into one sport from a young age
  • More clubs, businesses and organisations should come together to share and make the most of community sport assets such as stadiums, pitches and other facilities
  • Clubs should be assets of community with a responsibility to give back to tackle issues within local communities, but also abroad (and this doesn’t stop them being viable businesses).


By Andrew Jenkin

Head of Supporters Direct Scotland & Club Development Scotland

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