SUBMISSION FROM FALKIRK COUNCIL COMMUNITY SERVICES FOOTBALL’S FUTURE Please find outlined below comments from Falkirk Council, in response to the Enterprise and Culture Committee’s interim report and discussion paper on proposals to Reform Football in Scotland. Although we note that the response deadline has passed we trust that our comments may still be of value to the Committee. We have chosen to provide comment in relation to selected questions that we feel are of relevance to a Local Authority. INFRASTRUCTURE & FACILITIES Q13 Should there be a deadline for sportscotland to complete a national facilities audit? We agree that this would be appropriate. Q14 Should public sector bodies produce a national policy for the development of 3rd Generation multi-sport facilities in Scotland in order to provide others with a clear overview of the direction of policy? We presume this would be led by sportscotland and support, in principle, the production of a national policy for the development of 3rd generation multisport facilities. It increasingly tends to be the approach adopted ‘on the ground’ albeit in an ad hoc fashion. A clear policy would hopefully ensure a more rational approach. However, we do have concerns that this approach could lessen the value of grass pitches. Grass pitches still perform a vital function as venues for competitive match play and their role as open space in urban environments cannot be underestimated. We would urge that national policy on the use of 3rd generation pitches should take full account of the adequacy of and function for grass pitches. Furthermore we believe that it would need to fit with the National Facilities Strategy and sportscotland’s desire to see local pitch strategies developed.
FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT Q15 Should we take steps to ensure all primary school football in Scotland is small- sided? Direction from the Executive in this regard would be helpful to ensure a structured approach. The delivery of football in our schools tends to be through this approach with concentration on fundamental skill development. Further direction from football authorities to local networks would be helpful to encourage and embed this widely as a development model. What role can the senior clubs play in promoting wider programmes, such as those aimed at bringing young people and women into the game? We recognise that many senior clubs are involved in promoting wider programmes, for example in this area Falkirk Football Club runs midnight leagues.
However there is no obligation on clubs to participate in such activity and perhaps this could be further explored. A key area where we believe senior clubs can contribute is through facility development and enabling wider access. Partnership working through community planning could be a mechanism to help to create new access agreements. However an important aspect is to ensure that football development activity is co-ordinated between all delivery mechanisms. In Falkirk we have embarked on ensuring that this happens at a local level through an informal partnership between Falkirk Council, Falkirk Football Club and Stenhousemuir Football Club. The role of the Councils Football Development Officer and the involvement of the SFA, is crucial to ensuring ‘joined up’ activity. Success is also dependent on gaining the support of children’s and youth team organisers.
THE ROLE OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR Q20 What more should the Scottish Executive do to ensure in relation to PPP contracts that there is access to school sports facilities beyond normal hours for the entire community? In our experience funding limitations often constrain Local Authority aspirations for better school and community facilities on new build projects. It is widely accepted that there are additional costs associated with ensuring that schools are designed to accommodate wider community access. We believe that in order to really address this issue the Scottish Executive should increase the funding allocation ring fenced for sports facilities in schools. The Executive could also do more to promote examples of best practice. Should the Scottish Executive establish a consultative forum bringing together key stakeholders from all sections of Scottish society to discuss the development of policy with regard to football and to provide direction to Executive policy and clarification of the role of stakeholders in developing policy? Football is a part of Scottish society in a way that no other sport is. It is also a significant economic factor in a way that no other sport is. On the basis of these points there would appear to be merit in adopting this approach. We suggest that full regard to the role of the SFA in leading the sport would be required however we support the principle of establishing a consultative forum. Should we encourage community planning partnerships to engage in dialogue with their local football club(s) in order to explore areas of cooperation? Our experience leads us to wholeheartedly endorse this approach. In the Falkirk area partnership has brought the benefits of a new Stadium for Falkirk Football Club with a range of community facilities. Community facilities include a 5-aside complex and fitness suite. The new Stadium and its ancillary facilities are being successfully managed through a partnership between Falkirk Football Club and Falkirk Council.
Furthermore Falkirk Council is leading on a bid for a regional indoor football centre that will establish a Forth Valley Football Academy at the new Stadium site. This is also being developed in partnership with Falkirk Football Club and other local clubs. Q23 Should the Scottish Executive work with all those involved in Scottish football to set agreed targets for increasing participation in football at all ages and levels? We believe sportscotland should lead on target setting across all sport. In terms of the funding commitments already shown by the Scottish Executive to fund the youth action plan and Football Academies, should targets be set to complete the network of Academies and to publish a progress report on how Executive funding is enabling the youth action plan to be funded? We believe this would be helpful and suggest it might benefit the work of the Forum suggested in Q21. Should the Scottish Executive extend funding for the Show Racism the Red Card campaign and should the SFA demonstrate their commitment to the campaign by providing monies in addition to those provided by UEFA and also to fund Supporters’ Direct beyond the current commitment to 2005-06? Our view is that this is one mechanism for tackling racism but it needs to be set in context with other related work and funding allocations set accordingly.