2014 SPLstats Quiz Answers

Here are the answers to the 2014 SPLstats quiz questions.  The questions can be found here.


Round 1 – The 2013/14 Season

1. Jonny Hayes
2. Ikechi Anya
3. Frazer Wright
4. Queen of the South
5. 1256
6. Billy Mckay and Greg Tansey
7. Lee Robinson
8. Adam and Billy King & Dan and Filip Twardzik.
9. Henri Anier (v Aberdeen), Kenny McLean (v Hibs) & Steven Thompson (v Hearts)
10. 1985/86.



Round 2 – Name the Manager

1. Ivano Bonetti
2. Ivan Golac
3. Marcio Maximo
4. Franck Sauzee
5. Dr Jozef Venglos
6. Claude Anelka
7. Ebbe Skovdahl
8. Harri Kampman
9. Valdas Ivanauskas
10. Sergei Baltacha




Round 3 – Laws of the Game

1. 17
2. 8 feet (2.44m)

3. Shinpads and boots/footwear
4. Retake the kick-off, because the ball must go forward.
5. 2 yards (2m)
6. He should award the goal.
7. A penalty kick.
8. 6
9. A goal-kick.
10. Serious foul play, violent conduct, spitting, denying a goalscoring opportunity with a tackle/challenge, denying a goal/goalscoring opportunity by handling the ball, foula and abusive language, two yellow cards.



Round 4 – Pointless

These questions will be converted into Sporcle quizzes.



Round 5 – Stadium Quiz

1. Borough Briggs
2. Links Park

3. Pittodrie
4. Forthbank
5. Broadwood
6. Palmerston
7. Shielfield
8. Falkirk Stadium
9. Dens Park
10. Fir Park



Round 6 – Scottish Clubs in Europe

1. Greenock Morton (v Chelsea)
2. Inverness CT & Ross County
3. Rot-Weiss Essen
4. Falkirk & Livingston
5. Barcelona
6. Danny Lennon
7. Dunfermline Athletic & Kilmarnock
8. Feyenood
9. Jamie Murphy (Motherwell v Flamurtari)
10. 20

Round 7 – Name that Player

1. Ryan McGowan
2. Ray Montgomerie

3. Daniel Majstorovic
4. Madjid Bougherra
5. Lee Naylor
6. Maurice Ross
7. Tom Boyd
8. Prince Buaben
9. Ian Ferguson
10. Brian Irvine




Round 8 – Missing Men

1. John Baird
2. Roman Bednar

3. Callum Davidson
4. Jamie McAllister
5. Ryan Jack
6. John Greig
7. Joe Jordan
8. Chris Sutton
9. Garry Kenneth
10. Scott Brown





2014 SPLstats Quiz Questions

The second annual SPLstats Quiz night took place on Friday 16th May.  23 teams participated and the eventual winners were the STV Sport team, who very kindly donated their prize money to charity.

I’d like to thank Scotland’s Premier Oddsmaker, McBookie for their kind sponsorship of the event, which allowed me to secure an excellent venue in the shape of Firhill.  I’d also like to think David MacDonald of the Pie and Bovril forum for his very generous contribution to the prize fund, money which will now go to a very deserving charity.

For those of you who missed out on attending, here’s an opportunity to see how you would have got on.  Answers will be posted later.


Round 1 – The 2013/14 Season

1. Who scored the first league goal in the SPFL?
2. Which player made his Scotland debut against Belgium in September?
3. Who scored St Johnstone’s goal in their memorable 1-0 win away to Rosenborg?
4. Which side knocked holders St Mirren out of the League Cup?
5. Fraser Forster broke Bobby Clark’s top flight clean sheet record. How many minutes did he go without conceding a goal in the Premiership?
6. Which players missed a penalty in the League Cup final penalty shootout?
7. Raith Rovers beat Rangers 1-0 in the Challenge Cup final. Which member of their victorious side also won the same trophy last season?
8. Which two sets of brothers appeared in this season’s Scottish Premiership?
9. Three players scored inside the first minute of a Premiership match this season. Can you name two of them?
10. Neither of this season’s major domestic cup finals contained a team from Glasgow. When was the last time that this happened?



Round 2 – Name the Manager

This was a picture round.  Click the link below to download the quiz sheet.

Manager Sheet



Round 3 – Laws of the Game

1. How many laws are there?
2. What height should the crossbar be?

3. The laws of the game require a player to have five pieces of basic equipment. His shirt, shorts and socks are three – what are the other two?
4. A player attempts to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper directly from kick-off, but misjudges it and kicks it into the net without touching another player. What should the referee award?
5. At a throw-in, what distance must a defending player be from the point where the throw is taken?
6. The attacking team score a goal, but before play restarts the referee realises that the defending team had an extra player on the pitch. What should he award?
7. A defender standing outside the penalty area picks up a water bottle and throws it at a attacker standing inside the penalty area. What should the referee award?
8. How many substitutes are a team allowed to make in an international friendly?
9. An attacking player kicks the ball straight into the opponents’ net from a drop ball. What should the referee award?
10. There are seven offences listed in the laws of the game for which a player should be sent off. Can you name any 4 of them?



Round 4 – Pointless

Round 4 was loosely based on the TV show Pointless, where the questions have multiple correct answers and aim of the game is to find the most obscure correct answer possible. Unlike the TV show, I did not survey 100 people before the quiz, so the aim for the teams was to choose a correct answer which none of the other teams in the room picked. 1 point was awarded if you were the only team to give your answer, half a point was awarded if two or three teams gave an answer, and no points were awarded if more than three teams gave an answer.

This twist added an element of psychology to the round. If everyone was going for an obscure answer, then that might mean that the most obvious answer would be the best one to go for. But if everyone thought that way, then nobody would score any points.

The 10 questions are listed below – I will eventually convert these into 10 Sporcle quizzes so that you can have a go at getting all the right answers.

1. Name a player who has been awarded the SPFA Player of the Year.
2. Name a country who Scotland have faced at a World Cup or a European Championship finals (I’m looking for the name the country had at the time we faced them, not a modern name).
3. Name a manager who has won the Scottish Cup since 1990.
4. Name any opposing player who has scored against Celtic at Celtic Park this season.
5. Name any club who have played in a European final in Scotland.
6. Name any player with 50 or more caps for Scotland.
7. Name any club who have won at Ibrox since Ally McCoist took over at Rangers, or at Celtic Park since Neil Lennon took over at Celtic (excludes wins on penalties).
8. Name any Scottish player who has played in a Champions League knockout stage match (1992/93 onwards, only matches which took place after the group stage).
9. Name any player who has been an unused sub in a Scottish Cup final since 2010.
10. Name any player who scored 2 or more goals in a single Scottish Premiership match in the 2013/14 season.



Round 5 – Stadium Quiz

This was another picture round – click the link below to download the quiz sheet.

Stadium Quiz Sheet


Round 6 – Scottish Clubs in Europe

1. Which Scottish club played their only European away match without having to leave the island of Great Britain?
2. Which two teams from this season’s Premiership have never played in Europe?
3. Hibs were the first Scottish team to play in the European Cup. Who were their first opponents?
4. Which two Scottish clubs are unbeaten at home in European competition?
5. Which club have been the most frequent opposition for Scottish clubs in Europe?
6. Raith Rovers famously led 1-0 at half time away to Bayern Munich. Who scored their goal?
7. Which two non-city clubs have made it to the semi-final of a European competition.
8. Which side beat Celtic in the European Cup final in 1970?
9. Who was the last player to score a hat-trick for a Scottish club in a European match?
10. How many different Scottish clubs have participated in European competition?



Round 7 – Name that Player

This was a picture round – click the link below to download the question sheet.

Scottish Cup Player Sheet



Round 8 – Missing Men

Another round with a question sheet – click the link below to download it.

Missing Men Sheet



We’ll Support You Evermore

Supporting a football club is an inherently irrational decision which is more about emotional attachment than solid logic.  Many of us follow our sides across the country week after week, regardless of how the team is performing on the pitch.  Against all logic, we make long journeys to watch run-of-the-mill league games, even if form suggests a victory is unlikely.  Supporters of most clubs will endure far more bad days than they will good ones, but it’s the great ones that make it worth it.

For most, that support is unconditional – they’ll support the team regardless of what happens on or off the pitch.  But many clubs take advantage of this blind loyalty, taking their supporters for granted when making decisions and hoping that people will keep coming back regardless of how they are treated.  Clubs do occasionally listen to their supporters – the Rangers newco vote in the summer of 2012 would be the most obvious example of that – but more often than not, decisions are taken from a business perspective without consideration of the impact on fans.

But surely there still has to be a breaking point?  What if your star centre-forward is outed as a racist?  Can you still support him?  What if your club sign a convicted rapist or killer?  Would you still back them?  What if your club was bought by an exiled despot who had allegedly ordered the murder of thousands of people?  Could you continue to support that team?  The logical answer is “No, of course not”, yet each of these things has happened at British clubs in the last few years and there seemed to be little appreciable difference in the level of support.

Presumably supporters were concerned by these incidents, but decided that it wasn’t enough to stop them going along to see their team.  You often hear comments along the lines of “players/managers/chairmen come and go, but I’ll still be here supporting the club after they’re long gone”.  At some point, though, constant unpopular decisions will affect a club’s level of support.  Crowds may not instantly be affected, but slowly year on year people will drift away, and the club may be less likely to attract new fans.  At that stage, the remaining supporters may have to re-evaluate their position and ask themselves if their continued support is actually doing damage to the club in the long-term?

This very question has tortured me over the summer.  I’m a Killie fan, and over the last few years the club’s chairman Michael Johnston has made a number of unpopular decisions which have alienated supporters.  It’s also becoming increasingly apparent that he has alienated local businesses, to the extent that a group of them are involved in a bid to oust him from the club.  His reign hasn’t been all bad – the club’s debt has decreased by around £3m since he took over in 2005, although it should be noted that this has primarily been via the sale of assets.  Over the last couple of years I’ve tolerated his unpopular decisions and have continued to buy my season ticket at Rugby Park, but recent incidents have brought it all into focus a bit more for me.

While there have been numerous minor irritations during Johnston’s tenure, the first major issue for me came on the final day of the 2010/11 season.  Killie had enjoyed a very successful season with the management team of Mixu Paatelainen and Kenny Shiels and made it into the top 6 of the SPL.  The final game of the season saw Killie hosting a Rangers side who required a win to secure a third consecutive league title.  With Rugby Park holding over 18,000 people, and with Killie’s average home support that season being in the region of 5,000, it was clear that there was a huge risk of Rangers fans getting a hold of tickets for the home end.  Rather than introducing security measures to discourage away fans from buying home end tickets, Johnston appeared to tacitly encourage it.

The outcome, as you can imagine, was chaos in the Killie end.  Thousands of Rangers fans gained access to the home sections of the stadium, and openly celebrated goals as their side won 5-1 against a Killie side who had run out of steam.  I personally had a Rangers fan sitting next to me, and he challenged me to a fight for having the audacity to tell him to sit down when he jumped up to celebrate his side’s opening goal.  Johnston endangered the safety of every Killie fan inside the stadium that day, and if Killie had taken a point or more from that game, things could have ended up a lot worse than they did.

Many supporters contacted the club expressing their disappointment at how things had been handled, but to the best of my knowledge not one of them received a response.  I certainly didn’t.  Johnston didn’t even apologise for what had happened, and even had the brass neck to blame the situation on season ticket holders selling their vouchers to Rangers fans.  Unless the club suddenly acquired extra thousands of season ticket holders, that blatantly wasn’t the case.  But in spite of the chairman endangering our support then attempting to absolve himself of all blame, I still purchased a season ticket for the next year.

A year later, there was yet more controversy, this time surrounding the club’s position on the Rangers newco vote.  Johnston had clearly positioned himself as being in favour of allowing the newco into the SPL assuming a number of compromises were made, which again was unpopular with the Killie support.  Again, he ignored correspondence from supporters, though he did turn up to an open meeting of the supporters’ association open meeting where he attempted to justify his position in terms of his “fiduciary duty” to look after the club’s employees.

Over the summer, it became clear that the majority of SPL clubs would be voting against the newco proposals, and at this point Johnston decided to consult the supporters, sending out a survey to the club’s “stakeholders”, which included season ticket holders and shareholders.  When the vote was held, 10 SPL clubs voted against the newco entering, but Johnston abstained.  He would later attempt to justify this decision by claiming that just 36% of supporters consulted voted “No”.  The wording of this statement suggested to me that the 36% referred to all surveys sent out (whether returned or not), rather than that 36% of those who responded to the survey.  For the second consecutive season, he was happy to absolve himself of “blame” by pointing the finger at the club’s support.  And yet, for the second season in a row, I decided to buy a season ticket against my better judgement.

The 2012/13 season more or less passed without incident, but at the end of the season, Johnston made the decision to sack Kenny Shiels.  Shiels had been in charge of the club for just over two years, and had guided his side to League Cup success in 2011/12.  Last season was a disappointing one – we threw away a top six spot by picking up just one point from two games at home to the bottom sides in the league, coupled by a last minute goal Dundee Utd goal, and we self-destructed in a Scottish Cup quarter-final at home to Hibs.  After being consigned to the bottom six, Shiels decided to introduce a number of young players to the side, and results suffered as Killie slumped to 9th.  Nonetheless, he had the vast majority of the support behind him, and fans were excited about the young talent he was bringing into the side.

Johnston’s decision to dismiss Shiels was met with widespread shock, and was made worse by the undigified way he carried out the sacking.  The whole thing was carried out via the newspapers, with Shiels being made to wait a week before learning his fate.  Johnston attempted to justify his decision by citing the club’s poor league performance, Shiels’ disciplinary record, and, ludicrously, the fact that he had introduced too many young players to the team.  Needless to say, this did not go down well with supporters.

Meanwhile, Johnston has been rebuffing approaches from a group of local businesses to buy the club.  This group includes the club’s shirt sponsors QTS and the Brownings Bakers who produce the famous Killie pie.  For years, Johnston has claimed that he would sell the club if he received a “credible offer”, yet it has transpired that he has placed a valuation of £2.5m on the club which he bought for £1 in 2005, and which still carries a £9.8m debt.  To me, this made it absolutely clear that he is more interested in personal gain than he is in the future of the football club.

At that point, I decided to consider my own position.  Last season, I spent a great deal of money travelling through from Edinburgh to Rugby Park for SPL matches, as well as travelling to the majority of away games.  I enjoyed the away games a lot more, and most of them were quicker to get to.  Nonetheless, I felt it was my “duty” as a supporter to attend home matches.  But why should I feel like that when the club clearly don’t really do anything to make me want to go?  As I pointed out earlier, the club has treated its fans abominably in the last few seasons.  It seems unlikely any Killie fans would feel valued as a “customer”.

So, with a very heavy heart, I made the decision that I would not renew my season ticket, and that I would instead spend my money travelling to away games next season.  And when the club was at home, I would either spend some time with my long-suffering fiancee or attend some nearby games as a neutral.  I came to this decision independently, as a result of my own personal circumstances, and it turned out I was not alone, as many Killie fans have taken a “Not a Penny More” approach, deciding not to pay money into the club while Johnston remains in charge.

This approach has, unsurprisingly, led to some disagreements amongst supporters.  Some have argued that starving the club of funds will only hurt the club.  While I have sympathy with this viewpoint, it seems to me that the club is already being hurt by the stewardship of Johnston, and that the long-term repercussions of him staying in charge may be worse than the short-term issues caused by a reduction in income.  I would never tell someone else not to support their football club, and it goes without saying that I respect the decisions of people who have decided to continue to go to Rugby Park last season.  After all, I was in their position last year.

Rather than attempting to attract these lapsed supporters back, Johnston has chosen to attack them via the media.  He claimed that they were a small minority of supporters hiding behind computer screens, and that he would be happy to have a discussion if someone came forward.  However, I approached him for an interview three weeks ago, and he has completely ignored my request so far.  It is somewhat ironic that he accuses others of “hiding behind computer screens” whilst himself being happy to make comments in the press without following them up with action.

I have no doubt that over the next few weeks, Johnston will attempt to guilt trip supporters such as myself into buying tickets by claiming that the future of the club is being put in danger.  However, any actions taken by fans are as a direct consequence of his stewardship of the club, and as such, he is the one who would have put the club in danger.  When Woolworths went bust, nobody blamed the customers who started shopping elsewhere because it was becoming outdated and no longer met the needs of your average shopper.  If a football club is losing customers, it should be looking at why people are no longer attending and taking steps to address it.

If Killie do end up in perilous waters or even administration, and potential new owners are looking to help rescue us, then they can count on my support to keep the club I love afloat.  But at the moment, I’m not willing to prop up a regime which has shown scant respect for me as a customer over the last few years.  If Johnston is going to lead the club to the precipice of oblivion, then I’d rather make a clean break now than have my heart gradually broken.

2013 SPLstats Quiz Results

The inaugural SPLstats quiz took place in Glasgow on Friday 24th May.  The questions and answers from the quiz are included in the links below.

Click here for the questions.

Click here for the answers.


The winners of the quiz were the team from the “Pie and Bovril” forum, who won by a point from the runners-up “I Just McCalled to Say I Love You”.  The full leaderboard is listed below:

1. Pie and Bovril Area VLs – 54.5
2. I Just McCalled to Say I Love You – 54
=3. Mo Camara – 53
=3. The Leigh Griffiths Lucozade Fund – 53
5. The Away End – 52.5
6. Dossers United – 52
7. Tell Him He’s Pele – 48.5
8. @mbutch_sjfc and friends – 47.5
9. The Terrace Podcast – 45
10. Doug’s Gone Babysitting – 43.5
=11. Ayrviators – 41
=11. St Mirren Stats – 41
=13. Fitbawshambles – 37
=13. The SPL Podcast – 37
15. Chick Dung – 34
16. Dad’s Team – 30

2013 SPLstats Quiz Answers

Here are the solutions to the 2013 SPLstats quiz.

Round 1 – 2012/13 Season

1. Gregory Tade
2. Johnny Russell
3. Barrie McKay
4. Gary Hooper (6)
5. Dumbarton, Morton, Rangers, Arbroath
6. St Mirren 5-4 Ross County
7. Alberto Undiano Mallenco
8. Alan Hutton & Gary Caldwell
9. Sweden, Poland, Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herz, Faroe Islands
10. Esmael Goncalves and Steven Thompson


Round 2 – Name That Stadium

1. Cappielow
2. Tynecastle
3. Somerset Park
4. Balmoor
5. Stark’s Park
6. Gayfield
7. Falkirk Stadium
8. McDiarmid Park
9. The Bet Butler Stadium
10. Station Park


Round 3 – Name That Season

1. 2001/02
2. 1991/92
3. 2003/04
4. 2005/06
5. 2010/11
6. 1994/95
7. 2007/08
8. 1996/97
9. 1986/87
10. 2008/09


Round 4 – Pointless

These answers will be available via Sporcle quizzes once I have completed them.


Round 5 – Scottish Cup

1. Queen’s Park and Clydesdale
2. Hamilton Academical
3. Celtic v Dunfermline
4. Gordon Durie (Rangers v Hearts, 1996)
5. Airdrie (v Gala Fairydean, 2011)
6. Aberdeen v Celtic (1990)
7. Dundee Utd
8. Pa Kujabi
9. East Fife (1938)
10. Kilmarnock v Falkirk (1997)


Round 6 – Missing Men

1. Graham Dorrans
2. Garry Hay
3. Graham Alexander
4. Steven Whittaker
5. Eric Black
6. Marc McAusland
7. Gordon Durie
8. Stevie Chalmers
9. Paul Dickov
10. Stephen Elliott


Round 7 – Scotland National Team

1. 1872
2. Austria
3. Colin Stein (v Cyprus)
4. Twice
5. Davie Weir (v Lithuania, 2011)
6. Christian Panucci
7. Kris Commons (v Faroes & Northern Ireland, 2010-11)
8. Paul Hartley
9. Darren Fletcher
10. Macedonia (September 2009)


Round 8 – Picture Round

1. Peter Enckelman
2. Lukasz Jutkiewicz
3. Adrian Mrowiec
4. Roman Golobart
5. Edson Braafheid
6. Juanma Ortiz
7. David Silva
8. David Gonzalez
9. Aaron Mooy
10. Valdas Trakys

2013 SPLstats Quiz Questions

The inaugural SPLstats Quiz night took place in Glasgow on Friday 24th May.  16 teams participated and the eventual winners by half a point were the team from the “Pie and Bovril” forum.

For those of you who missed out on attending, here’s an opportunity to see how you would have got on.  Answers will be posted later.

Round 1 – The 2012/13 Season

1. Who was the first player to score in Europe for a Scottish club this season?
2. Who was the only Scottish player to score a hat-trick in the SPL in 2012/13?
3. Who scored Rangers’ first goal in SFL3?
4. Who finished as top scorer in the 2012/13 League Cup?
5. Queen of the South won the Challenge Cup following a memorable final against Partick Thistle. Name two of the four sides they beat on their way to the final.
6. What was the scoreline in the highest scoring SPL match of 2012/13? (state teams involved)
7. Who was the referee who controversially took charge of Celtic’s home Champions League defeat to Juventus?
8. Which two players started all six of Scotland’s World Cup qualifiers?
9. Name any two of the five nations drawn in Scotland’s 2015 Women’s World Cup qualifying group.
10. Which two St Mirren players scored in both the semi-final and final of the League Cup?



Round 2 – Name That Stadium

This was a picture round. Click the link below to download the quiz sheet.

Stadium Quiz Sheet



Round 3 – Name the Season

Another picture round – click below to download it.

Name That Season Sheet



Round 4 – Pointless

Round 4 was loosely based on the TV show Pointless, where the questions have multiple correct answers and aim of the game is to find the most obscure correct answer possible. Unlike the TV show, I did not survey 100 people before the quiz, so the aim for the teams was to choose a correct answer which none of the other teams in the room picked. 1 point was awarded if you were the only team to give your answer, half a point was awarded if two teams gave an answer, and no points were awarded if more than two teams gave an answer.

This twist added an element of psychology to the round. If everyone was going for an obscure answer, then that might mean that the most obvious answer would be the best one to go for. But if everyone thought that way, then nobody would score any points.

The 10 questions are listed below – each of them is a clickable link to a Sporcle quiz so that you can have a go at getting all the correct answers.

1. Name a club which has won the Scottish League Cup.
2. Name a player who has appeared in Scotland’s 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
3. Name a player who made 35 or more appearances in the 2012/13 SPL season.
4. Name a member of Scotland’s squad for the 1998 World Cup.
5. Name a Scottish player who scored in this season’s English Premier League.
6. Name any club which has played against a Scottish team in a Champions League group stage match.
7. Name any club which has won the Scottish 3rd Division.
8. Name anyone who won a Clydesdale Bank SPL monthly award (Player, Young Player or Manager of the Month) in 2012/13.
9. Name any player who has scored 10 or more goals for Scotland.
10. Name any player who has scored against Scotland at Hampden since 2000.



Round 5 – The Scottish Cup

1. The Scottish Cup was first contested in 1873/74. Which two sides met in the final?
2. Who are the only team to have played in more than one Scottish Cup final without winning the trophy?
3. Which are the only two sides to have met more than once in a Scottish Cup final since 2000 (excluding Celtic v Hibs, which hadn’t taken place at the time of the quiz)?
4. Who was the last player to score a hat-trick in the Scottish Cup final?
5. Who were the last team to score double figures in a Scottish Cup match?
6. Which two sides contested the first Scottish Cup final to go to a penalty shoot-out?
7. Who were the last club to win the Scottish Cup for the first time?
8. Who was the last player to be sent off in a Scottish Cup final?
9. Who were the last side from outside the top flight to win the Scottish Cup?
10. Which teams contested the last Scottish Cup final which didn’t feature a side from a city?



Round 6 – Missing Men

Another picture round. Click the link below to download.

Missing Men Sheet



Round 7 – The Scotland National Team

1. Scotland faced England in the first ever international football match. In what year was it played?
2. Scotland’s first World Cup finals came in Switzerland in 1954. Who did they face in their first match?
3. Who was the last player to score a hat-trick for Scotland?
4. How many times have Scotland qualified for the European Championships?
5. Who is the oldest player ever to play for Scotland?
6. Who scored the last minute winner for Italy which knocked Scotland out of Euro 2008?
7. Who was the last player to score in two consecutive games for Scotland?
8. Who took the corner from which Gary Caldwell scored in the 1-0 home win over France in 2006?
9. Who is the most capped Scotland player never to have played for a Scottish club?
10. Who were the last team Scotland beat by more than one goal in a competitive match?



Round 8 – Name that Player

Another picture round. Link below.

Name That Player Sheet




The SFA National Football Survey – A Review

A couple of months ago, the SFA released the “National Football Survey” in conjunction with the SPL, SFL and Supporters Direct, allowing fans their chance to have a say on the future of Scottish football.  These organisations should be commended for giving supporters this opportunity, but it remains to be seen whether they will take notice of what supporters are saying or whether they are just paying lip service to fans by making them feel involved.

None of the three governing bodies covered themselves in glory in the summer, and while self-interest is to be expected from the league bodies, the SFA failed in their duty to govern the game in the best interests of all clubs.  Stewart Regan’s predictions of social unrest were an embarrassment to both himself the association, but they also revealed a lot about how he views supporters in this country.  The lack of any sort of contrition from Regan since then makes me skeptical about how interested he really is in the opinion of those same fans.

This piece will look at the positive and negative aspects of the survey in terms of its content, layout and question style, and will also discuss the likely end result in terms of how the results will be presented by the SFA.  I have deliberately waited until after the survey was complete to release this piece, to avoid prejudicing any of the results.

The first thing to point out is that the survey was very long.  That was necessary in some ways given the depth of the topics which are being discussed, but it may also have put some people off answering all the way to the end.  The survey began with some basic demographic questions, which are useful in determining how responses vary across different age and sex groups and also across different areas of Scotland.  This also included a question about your current level of involvement in football, which is important because those who are currently involved in, say, grassroots football will have a greater idea of the current issues at that level.  It may also have been useful to have looked at past involvement at each level for the same reasons, but there was no question about this.

The first main section relates to the SFA.  The answering format for these questions is slightly odd – it asks the user to rank a number of issues in terms of importance, thus forcing someone to pick a “best” and “worst”.  This is not always logical – if I was forced to rank the Twilight films in order of preference, it wouldn’t mean that I actually liked the one I picked as “best”.   The concern is that people pick something as the “best of a bad bunch”, but this is presented in a way which suggests that this answer is in some way popular.

The same is true at the other end of the scale – if I was asked to rank the tracks from the album “Definitely Maybe” by Oasis in order, then even the song I picked as “worst” would still be one I liked (“Bring it on Down”, for anyone who’s interested).  This could lead to an important issue being trivialised purely because it was being compared to other, more important issues.  For example, the first question in this section asked people to rank “Better Facilities”, “Better Coaching”, “Increasing Grassroots Participation”, “Stronger Financial Regulation” and “Stronger Supporter Representation” in terms how they would help to improve the standard of Scottish football.  I’d imagine most people would consider ALL of these to be important, but some of them are going to be cast aside.

Incidentally, that question also had the slightly odd “Earlier season start (from late June/July)” option, which was completely out of place in relation to the other answers and would seem to have more to do with league reconstruction rather than improving the standard.  A different start date is unlikely to have any effect on the actual standard.  I am always suspicious when I see something like that in a survey – it often indicates that someone is looking to use it to manipulate the results.

This answering style doesn’t have any advantages over the more conventional method of picking an answer on a scale from 1-10 or “very good” to “very bad”.  If the conventional style was used, it would still be possible to see how any individual ranked various issues against each other by comparing their responses for each issue, but it would have the added advantage of also allowing you to see how important they considered the issue on an absoute scale, rather than just a relative one.  It seems unlikely that a large organisation like the SFA would not have someone with experience of survey design, which suggests that this answering style may have been deliberately chosen.  A few of the questions do use the more conventional style of answering – but these are mixed up amongst the ranking questions which could cause confusion.

This section also included a question about your preferred top flight size, allowing the user to choose from 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and “more than 18”.  But as I discussed in this piece for STV, there is more to the league layout than just a number.  My idea of a 14 team league might be different from yours, but the survey doesn’t differentiate between these.  The responses likely to be inconclusive – the people who want a larger league will be split across the 14, 16, 18 and “more than 18” options.  This could leave the 10 team option as the most popular – anyone who wants a smaller league would select this option by default.  My concern would be that the SFA, who were previously in favour of a 10 team league as suggested in the McLeish report, could unscrupulously take advantage of that outcome by claiming that the biggest support was for the 10 team option.

There was a question about your preferred dates for the season, but this question was unnecessarily restrictive in its options.  The only options were “August to May”, “July to May with a 6 week break”, “March to Nov with a short summer break”, plus an “Other” option (without the opportunity to specify what you actually mean by “other”).  This question seems like a fudge which mixes three issues together (summer/winter football, mid-season break and start-finish dates).  It would be more informative to ask about each of these separately – the responses to this single question will not really provide any insight into people’s opinions on any of those issues.  My person preference is for the season to run from mid July to May, without a winter break, but I was not able to select that option.  Again, the cynic in me suggests that this was deliberate, with the SFA having previously sought to foist a winter break on us.

There was also an opportunity for people to discuss which organisations were most responsible for improving the standard of Scottish football (options being the SFA, SPL, SFL, clubs and the government), which is an important issue.  The idea of ranking the organisations makes slightly more sense in this case.  That was followed by another couple of important questions, asking whether you think the various national teams and Scottish clubs under or overachieve on the field and how important you consider certain responsibilities of the SFA.  There were also a few questions about your awareness of various SFA initiatives, which will allow the association to look at how well they are promoting these initiatives.

There was an important question about financial realities within the game, which will hopefully allow the SFA to introduce some form of financial regulations which would help reduce the number of clubs getting themselves into trouble.  The survey also asked people to choose how the SFA should prioritise spending on things like coaching, elite youth development and grass roots football, and also looked into what people felt the main responsibilities of the SFA actually are.  This is important for any organisation – they have to know what their “customers” expect of them.  The questions about the new Judicial Panel will also prove useful – it will allow them to see how the public have responded to the new disciplinary procedures.  Having a mandatory question asking people to rank the various governing boards of the SFA in order of influence is less useful – most people (myself included) won’t have a clue what each of the individual boards do, and they should have been allowed the opportunity to say so.

A concerning aspect was the line of questioning relating to the McLeish report.  The questions asked if you were aware of the McLeish report, and how much you felt the SFA had implemented the McLeish report since it was published, but did not allow you to give feedback on whether you agreed with recommendations of the report.  I said that I didn’t think the SFA had implemented much of the report, but was unable to tell them that I’m actually quite glad they haven’t.  While I haven’t read the whole report, a number of the excerpts which I read were poorly researched and suggested solutions which I didn’t agree with.  My worry is that they will claim that people didn’t think the McLeish report had been implemented enough, and will make steps to introduce more of it, regardless of its popularity.  The questions about “Scotland United: A 2020 Vision” (which I knew nothing of before the report), provide more opportunities to actually decide which parts of that publication you prefer.

A discussion of the reliability of the media is also important – we saw in the summer that certain media outlets are beginning to lose credibility while the advent of social media means that news is being dispersed more quickly than ever before.  The SFA has to ensure that it continues to reach football fans in the most effective way.  It is disappointing that when the SFA ask about interaction with supporters, they only allow an option of “engage with existing supporters groups” – they should be willing to engage with all supporters regardless of whether they are members of a supporters group.

The second section of the survey related to your experiences with your club.  After providing information about your favourite club and how regularly you attend matches, it asks why you support this club, which is of course useful in terms of the governing bodies understanding what makes fans tick.  It then had a number of questions allowing you to rate how important things like atmosphere, stewarding and travel options are in terms of your matchday enjoyment, and also how well you think clubs are doing on these issues which again is very useful to know.  There is a similar question asking how valued you feel as a supporter, which may well be an eye-opener for certain clubs (my own included).  Another very important question relates to what factors would discourage you from attending a match – though it is unlikely that clubs will be able to implement changes to all of them.  However, commonly discussed issues such as standing and alcohol at games are only mentioned in that single question – it would surely have made more sense to have separate questions about these to gauge the popularity of both issues.

One major oversight comes in the questions relating to who you attend matches with.  I generally attend home matches with my dad, grandfather and brother, but there is no option to select this (aside from “a group of male friends”).  Given the supposed focus on getting families along to games, it is very odd that this is not included.

The final questions relate to fan ownership of clubs and also board representation for supporters, which is something which I’d imagine the majority of people would be interested in at least discussing.  However, there is no further information included about what they feel “fan ownership” would consist of, or indeed how they would intend to help people to achieve this goal.  As always, the devil is in the detail, and no detail is provided.

The survey is flawed in terms of the amount of written feedback it allows.  The only opportunity people have to submit a text answer relates to what the SFA could do to improve transparency of its functions and responsibility.  They should have provided an opportunity for more general feedback – while this would take a while to collate and properly digest, it would be very useful in terms of the association becoming aware of areas where fans have concerns.

While I think it is positive that the governing bodies have released this survey, I remain skeptical about their motives for doing so.  I have previously discussed the ways in which surveys can be manipulated, and the layout of the survey makes it possible for the SFA/SPL/SFL to pick and choose how to interpret the responses to certain questions.  I believe that certain parts of the survey were designed to deliberately guide people towards certain answers, and a number of important issues (league structure, season start/finish dates, standing at matches) were not discussed in nearly enough detail.

As such, I am not convinced that the results released will genuinely reflect the views of the public on every issue.  That is not to say that the survey will not be useful – the questions about the judicial panel, financial regulation and matchday experience should provide important feedback to the SFA and clubs, and will hopefully allow them to implement changes where necessary.

My hope is that there will be transparency with results of this survey and that they will be used to spark a debate on various issues.  It would be wrong for the governing bodies to present a fait accompli and to claim that it was what the supporters wanted – doing so would create more suspicion of underhand behaviour.  I would urge the bodies to release the results of the survey in full when they have finished collating them, thus allowing people to draw their own conclusions.  A failure to do so would suggest that they have something to hide.