Clubs engage with more than 770,000 local people through community programmes, an increase of 60,000 on the previous year’s total.
As the BBC publishes the results from its latest annual Price of Football survey, the SPFL’s own independent research has once again highlighted the prominence of its clubs within their communities, with more than three quarters of a million people now benefiting from club initiatives.
The feedback – from all 42 clubs who took part in both surveys - is wholly encouraging, with community and charitable programmes now firmly established as part of the Scottish football fabric.
Supporters are also well looked after, with season ticket holders making significant savings compared to paying at the gate, and many clubs better serving fans’ needs through the appointment of Supporters Liaison Officers who act as a bridge between the club and its support.
Among the many encouraging statistics unearthed by the SPFL’s independent research are:
- Clubs engaged with approximately 772,000 people via community activity in season 2016/17, many supported by programmes run and organised by the SPFL Trust
- That figure is up more than 60,000 (8.7%) from the previous season’s total of 710,000
- Around 86% of all clubs provide free tickets to matches for community groups, charities and other worthy causes, with an estimated total of 84,000 donated last season
- The number of clubs offering free admission to children has risen to 62%, up 5% on last year’s figure
- The average maximum saving for supporters across all four divisions buying a 2017/18 season ticket when compared with paying at the gate is £96.20
SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster said: “We have again reached out to our clubs to gather detailed feedback on a number of key areas, including community programmes, free ticket provision and other club-led initiatives.
“The response from all 42 clubs gives us great encouragement that the Scottish game continues to make a lasting and positive impact, not just on supporters but on many other people in the clubs’ local communities as well.
“Total attendances for the four Ladbrokes divisions exceeded four million in season 2016/17, a 12% increase year on year, while almost a quarter of a million supporters attended the first two fixture rounds of the 2017/18 season, a new record in the SPFL era.
“Both serve as further evidence that our game continues to go from strength to strength, and our clubs deserve a lot of credit for their efforts in making that happen.”
SPFL Trust chief executive Nicky Reid added: "We are delighted to see a further increase in the number of people our clubs are engaging with through community activity, year on year.
"An 8.7% increase to 772,000 reflects what we know in Scotland: that our league is fully committed to being the most community engaged in the world and that our clubs are genuinely trusted to support their communities.
"The recent Responsiball annual report now places the SPFL as the fourth most community-focused league in the world, based on their analysis of the 25 biggest national competitions. A rise of three places year on year, shows that this is an area of significant strength - and opportunity - for Scottish football.
"In the past year, the SPFL Trust and our clubs have been trusted to work on projects funded by the Scottish Government, Big Lottery Fund, Erasmus, Scottish Water, Kinder+Sport, and the SPFL itself amongst others.
"Our Trusted Trophy Tour also visited more than 20 clubs, and demonstrated the power that football has for good across a wide range of projects.
"Trust is hard-earned, and we all take the responsibilities that come with that but we can all be pleased that the direction of travel is extremely positive."
The seventh BBC annual Price of Football study was published on the BBC Sport website from 10pm this evening, after analysing prices at 232 clubs across Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Europe.
In response to the BBC’s survey results, SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster added: “This year’s BBC Price of Football survey again demonstrates Scottish football remains competitively priced, with the cost of almost two-thirds of all tickets either frozen or reduced year on year.
“All 42 clubs continue to endeavour to make football as affordable as they can for their supporters and we will continue to work closely alongside them to help them achieve that.”