Intangible Assets and Goodwill
The purpose of this conference, held at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, was

  • To bring together a range of relevant individuals and organisations with a shared interest in football and community regeneration.
  • To offer an opportunity to consider the positive contribution that professional football makes to place based regeneration, and how it might be consolidated and promoted.

The ‘beautiful game’ now operates as a business of superstars, celebrities, sponsorship deals and politics, but in some of our most disadvantaged communities it is still offers a source of identity, pride of place and shared aspirations.

Football is a hugely popular focus of communal physical activity for young people at a time of mounting concerns about exclusion, poor health and anti-social behaviour. It can also be a stimulus for related businesses and a hub for social networks.

SURF, in partnership with Heriot Watt University’s Social Enterprise Institute and kindly supported by Scottish Co-op, teamed up with some of the top players in regeneration to produce an event that sought to tackle some fascinating questions:

  • What is the role of football in place-based regeneration and how can it be better defined and supported?
  • What more could be done to link football with health and inclusion aims?
  • What opportunities are there for linking physical, economic and social regeneration through football?

120 participants from the football and regeneration sectors attended the conference, which was chaired by media personality and former international footballer Pat Nevin.

A full event report can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking here.

The key messages from this event:

  • While the deep rooted social problems manifested via football activity are well documented, football is a considerable force for good in Scottish society and there are significant further win/win opportunities for clubs and communities in closer co operation.
  • Football clubs are already delivering social initiatives in co operation with agencies of the Scottish executive in areas such as anti racist and anti sectarian education programmes.
  • The rate of positive outcomes for football linked social regeneration projects in respect of NEET participants is very high in comparison to most other approaches.
  • The very successful ongoing initiatives by and via professional clubs could be much better recorded and publicised.
  • ‘Enlightened self interest’ has facilitated significant re engagement of clubs with their communities in recent years. The public sector has a key role to play in taking this improving relationship to a the next level of mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • In pursuit of enlightened self interest, clubs should be encouraged to engage in development of the community, not just in the community.
  • Football club brands are potentially very effective catalytic tools for engaging young people and supporting wider regeneration partnership initiatives.
  • Football clubs should take a ‘total football’ approach to community engagement to build support and trust as well as a commercial fan base.
  • Communities and regeneration partners should develop a business case as well as a social case for engagement with clubs.
  • Much more should be done to make the most of football stadia as key community based facilities and focal points. Most are currently inaccessible and therefore underused for 95% of the week.
  • Co operatives represent a sound historical and contemporary theme in relation to the ongoing development of football clubs from ‘supporters direct’ to Barcelona FC.

Speaker presentation slides are available for download in PDF format below.

Lex Gold, Chief Executive of the Scottish Premier League

Alan Southern of University of Liverpool

Mel Young, Chief Executive of the Homeless World Cup

Greg Statt of Rangers Football Club and Craig Ritchie of Glasgow South West Regeneration Agency