The new service will provide legal, financial and governance support to community groups who are seeking involvement in club projects, from grassroots community clubs, through to professional teams competing in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL).
Club Development Scotland was formed after a recommendation of the Working Group Report into Supporter Involvement in Football Clubs, written by Stephen Morrow. The group included Supporters Direct Scotland, the Scottish FA, SPFL, Scottish Government and sportscotland.
The launch of Club Development Scotland is the first step in what is set to be a period of significant change for Supporters Direct Scotland, with subsequent announcements on its future structure to follow.
At this time, however, Supporters Direct Scotland – which is the officially recognised supporters’ organisation by the SPFL, Scottish FA (as a member of its Congress) and Scottish Government – is making a number of changes which will alter the way the organisation works with different supporter and community groups.
Still a firm believer in supporter and community ownership, Supporters Direct Scotland recognises there are a significant number of varying approaches successfully working. As such it will adapt to work with businesses, and different types of constituted community groups.
Club Development Scotland represents an opportunity for many sports clubs, not just football, to access free information, tools and best practice guidelines to better their work within their respective communities, via www.clubdevelopment.scot
Such areas of support will include:
Governance & legal advice
Managing physical assets
Due diligence reporting
Social enterprise support
Club Development Scotland will also be able to provide specialist consultancy support at heavily discounted rates. This will assist in long-term planning, which may involve some aspect of community ownership. For groups that wish to undertake large scale projects such as ownership, CDS offers a consultancy service, discounted to be as accessible as possible.
Consultants include Bryan Jackson, formerly of BDO, who brokered the unique three-way agreement between Hearts’ creditors, Ann Budge and the Foundation of Hearts to secure the club’s future and put it on a clear pathway towards supporter ownership.
Partnerships with the Institute of Directors (IOD) and legal firm DWF LLP are being formed to provide dedicated professional support.
Head of Supporters Direct Scotland Andrew Jenkin comments:
“This is a real game changer for Supporters Direct Scotland. The launch of our Club Development Scotland unit marks a shift in our approach to working with clubs at all levels of sport in Scotland – from grassroots community clubs to those at the highest level.
Supporters Direct Scotland is quickly evolving, with a recognition that every club at every level has a different requirement in terms of supporter involvement, and therefore different solutions are needed.
We’ll use our own expertise, but importantly we’ll also be guided by respected & experienced professional services practitioners. Our approach reflects how much sport in Scotland has changed in recent years.
We will also work much more closely with socially responsible businesses & their owners. We’ve seen the power of these relationships with clubs such as Hearts and Motherwell in recent years.
As well as representing this change through the widening of our membership, and lifting restrictions on the type of groups involved, we’re also proving direct support to newer organisations. For example, Rangers First and the Rangers Supporters Trust, who are expected to form a single membership group which will be uniquely structured, are receiving specific support from us.
We’re passionate about community and supporter involvement in their clubs, and where appropriate, community ownership. Today’s announcement is just the start.”