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New SFA Five Year Plan - games at Hampden, etc


GordonS
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The SFA has launched a new five year strategy for women and girls football. Having read (and written) a lot of strategy documents in my time this is typical - ambitious, interesting but lacking in detail of how they're going to try to achieve their targets. The detail is everything and hopefully we'll see that developed soon. Fiona McIntyre seems like she has the best interests of the game at heart and knows it top to bottom - we'll see if she and the SFA can deliver on it.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/57926179

https://www.scottishfa.co.uk/media/8054/accelerate-our-game-pdf.pdf

The headline action is that home games will all be at Hampden. I'm in two minds about that - there's a status that comes with it and I think it's really important to have a large population on the doorstep. But a crowd of 5,000 can create a good atmosphere in Tynecastle or St Mirren's ground - in Hampden a crowd like that is lost. The 18,000 they got for the friendly v Jamaica was a one-off, because of the feel-good factor before the World Cup. A qualifier against Ukraine in November will be a very different thing.

I pulled all the actions out of the report because I think it's useful to see them in one place. 

  1. Invest in new ways to introduce and retain girls’ and women of all levels of ability to participate 
  2. Support clubs to grow capacity and deliver more quality & sustainable opportunities 
  3. Support and strengthen the voluntary and professional workforce 
  4. Review how elite competitions are delivered and implement an improved governance model by the 2022/2023 season 
  5. Invest in an enhanced licencing system that improves player safety and raises standards across medical, sport science and technical provision for players 
  6. Improve competitions by delivering an increased number of fixtures and a more equitable and competitive format 
  7. Support and deliver defined and sustainable pathways for clubs, players and coaches 
  8. Ensure the game is accessible and is seen to be accessible to all groups 
  9. Increase number of professional players in Scotland by 10% year-on-year 
  10. Improve standard of match officials for elite domestic competition 
  11. Double commercial revenues and support clubs to maximise commercial assets 
  12. Showcase our game through bespoke marketing and communications strategy to support commercial growth targets 
  13. Introduce a national Under-23s programme to help bridge the gap between youth and senior international football 
  14. Develop a coaching framework to support a successful and distinctive SWNT identity 
  15. Develop a robust regional, national and international scouting system 
  16. Make Hampden the home of our Scottish Women’s National Team and increase crowds by 10% annually 
  17. Deliver a marketing and communications plan to amplify visibility and improve perceptions
  18. Work in partnership with clubs & SWF to review national performance programmes and to ensure they continue to enhance player development 
  19. Enable best v best development for young players domestically and internationally 
  20. Support clubs to deliver a performance environment and culture 
  21. Work with key stakeholders to increase the quantity and consistency of coverage of female football in the mainstream media 
  22. Increase average crowds at domestic league and cup fixtures by 10% annually 
  23. Support growth of audiences in-stadia, online and on television with the support of broadcast partners and sponsors 
  24. Increase visibility of domestic club and international matches through a multi-channel digital approach 
  25. Increase the girls’ and women’s football database to increase engagement, advocacy and fandom 
  26. Work with clubs to create a compelling and universal brand for domestic women’s football 
  27. Incorporate partnership opportunities within the marketing and communications strategy 
  28. Empower female leadership across all levels of the game 
  29. Improve leadership opportunities and develop top-class leaders and future leaders equipped with the necessary skills and support to lead and represent girls’ and women’s football 
  30. Provide a forum for players and young people to be engaged and involved in the strategic process throughout their careers 
  31. Generate new commercial inventory across the game and develop a pipeline of title and category partners and sponsors 
  32. Implement an improved governance model that delivers for all areas of the game and improves representation across all key decision-making bodies including the Scottish FA 
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As you say, it's like a kids Christmas wish list.  But no detail on how you're going to pay for it.  In this case, how are you going to achieve it....especially when they've had years to do so many of the aims in the male game; and failed.

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17 hours ago, GordonS said:

The SFA has launched a new five year strategy for women and girls football. Having read (and written) a lot of strategy documents in my time this is typical - ambitious, interesting but lacking in detail of how they're going to try to achieve their targets. The detail is everything and hopefully we'll see that developed soon. Fiona McIntyre seems like she has the best interests of the game at heart and knows it top to bottom - we'll see if she and the SFA can deliver on it.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/57926179

https://www.scottishfa.co.uk/media/8054/accelerate-our-game-pdf.pdf

The headline action is that home games will all be at Hampden. I'm in two minds about that - there's a status that comes with it and I think it's really important to have a large population on the doorstep. But a crowd of 5,000 can create a good atmosphere in Tynecastle or St Mirren's ground - in Hampden a crowd like that is lost. The 18,000 they got for the friendly v Jamaica was a one-off, because of the feel-good factor before the World Cup. A qualifier against Ukraine in November will be a very different thing.

I pulled all the actions out of the report because I think it's useful to see them in one place. 

As you say it's following this modern trend of going very heavy on nebulous targets, with a few fixed aims plus a couple of specific decisions, and failing to explain how many of them will be resourced or achieved.

I understand the thinking behind taking all games to Hampden - it gives them a more professional/elite image, treats them like the men, plus is by the biggest population base - but in a way it also runs contrary to some other aims e.g. involving the whole country. Over the years games have generally been moved around and some of the best crowds have been seen in places like Motherwell, Hearts, Livingston, Falkirk, St Mirren and Hibs. Building an atmosphere will also be difficult when the stadium is just say 5% full. Cutting through to OF fans may also be difficult as most international games fall on domestic weekends or European midweeks when their clubs tend to have their own games or be playing on TV.


I'd actually think the most important aims are these:

18 hours ago, GordonS said:
  1. Review how elite competitions are delivered and implement an improved governance model by the 2022/2023 season 
  2. Improve competitions by delivering an increased number of fixtures and a more equitable and competitive format 
  3. Increase number of professional players in Scotland by 10% year-on-year 
  4. Improve standard of match officials for elite domestic competition 
  5. Increase average crowds at domestic league and cup fixtures by 10% annually 

For the womens game to grow properly and sustainably there have to be more full-time players, proper crowds, a proper number of league and cup games, with more games being competitive. You could argue some aims here are actually quite modest. If for sake of argument there are 40 full-time players just now - or does it mean paid i.e. part-timers? - it only aims to grow that to 65 by the end of the plan. If a club get crowds of 75-100 just now it aims to grow that to 120-160 by the end of the plan.

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2 hours ago, HibeeJibee said:

For the womens game to grow properly and sustainably there have to be more full-time players, proper crowds, a proper number of league and cup games, with more games being competitive. You could argue some aims here are actually quite modest. If for sake of argument there are 40 full-time players just now - or does it mean paid i.e. part-timers? - it only aims to grow that to 65 by the end of the plan. If a club get crowds of 75-100 just now it aims to grow that to 120-160 by the end of the plan.

Yup, these are critical to the rest of it working. But without any detail they're just ink on a page. Hopefully the detail comes soon. You just read the thing constantly thinking "great, but how?"

I don't blame them for having relative modest targets when they're coming from such a low base and it will be very hard to achieve within 5 years. With the emergence of Celtic and Rangers as challengers the number of competitive league matches has risen from 3 to 18 in theory, though with Hibs sliding this season there were really just 9 competitive games. That's still more than double the men's Premier League.

Glasgow City can draw a big crowd for a European game but attendances at domestic games are still far, far below the level needed to sustain full time. The league badly needs at least 4 full time clubs.

Until the recent investment in Celtic and Rangers, every female footballer in Scotland was classed as amateur, because they got paid less than their expenses for taking part.

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It's a tricky situation, but a headline plan with such lofty ambitions will ideally add more than 2 dozen players to the national professional pool or a few dozen fans to the average crowd.

Playing only 21 league games also really isn't enough... wouldn't be acceptable at the lowest reaches of the pyramid nowadays... coupled with too many being one-sided.

No easy answers on that front though. What could they do - perhaps downsize again to 6 clubs and play 6x for 30-games?

Tbf some improvements have already been happening. You've seen £ support for individual players and now OF turning full-time, move to a regular season schedule, plus most clubs in SWPL1&2 now use proper grounds.

Certainly a key issue is translating reasonable crowds at European games and international qualifiers into meaningful attendances at domestic matches e.g. in 2019-20 had 6,206 at Scotland-Cyprus... 1,287 at Hibs-Sparta... 597/800 at Glasgow City-Cheranovo/Brondby... but you could knock digits off those domestically.

Edited by HibeeJibee
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On 23/07/2021 at 14:56, HibeeJibee said:

It's a tricky situation, but a headline plan with such lofty ambitions will ideally add more than 2 dozen players to the national professional pool or a few dozen fans to the average crowd.

Playing only 21 league games also really isn't enough... wouldn't be acceptable at the lowest reaches of the pyramid nowadays... coupled with too many being one-sided.

No easy answers on that front though. What could they do - perhaps downsize again to 6 clubs and play 6x for 30-games?

Tbf some improvements have already been happening. You've seen £ support for individual players and now OF turning full-time, move to a regular season schedule, plus most clubs in SWPL1&2 now use proper grounds.

Certainly a key issue is translating reasonable crowds at European games and international qualifiers into meaningful attendances at domestic matches e.g. in 2019-20 had 6,206 at Scotland-Cyprus... 1,287 at Hibs-Sparta... 597/800 at Glasgow City-Cheranovo/Brondby... but you could knock digits off those domestically.

They've upped SWPL1 to ten teams for the new season, so they're playing 27 games, which is definitely an improvement.

Adding to that, both Spartans and Hibs now have players on semi-pro deals (and in Glasgow City's signing announcements, a couple of their new players have mentioned signing their first professional contracts - although I'm not sure to what extent they're paying now). So it's improving, albeit slowly. It will be interesting to see if it leads to increased crowds domestically.

For what it's worth, I'll go to the Faeroes game and see what the atmosphere is like at Hampden for it, if it's alright I'll go to the other qualifiers as well. And I'll go to a handful of games on Sundays, though it certainly won't be every week. 

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On 26/07/2021 at 14:40, Craig the Hunter said:

They've upped SWPL1 to ten teams for the new season, so they're playing 27 games, which is definitely an improvement.

In terms of games.

Whether these 2 extra teams - and moreso whichever 2 ascend next year - can avoid regular thumpings...?

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