Goal of football masterplan is to improve the sport for all

A MASTERPLAN has been drawn up aimed at improving football for players, clubs and supporters.

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Its goals include the city bidding for the Homeless World Cup, Glasgow City Council hosting an annual congress with clubs and supporters, and a specific focus on supporting girls and women's football.

The document - put together by the city's football taskforce - covers themes such as access and affordability, supporting the supporters, club/hub development, performance and growing the game.

Launching the document at the Tesco Bank Football Challenge National Festival at Ibrox stadium, taskforce chairman and city council deputy leader Archie Graham said: "Football is part of Glasgow's DNA.

"There are few cities anywhere in the world that can match us for history, passion and participation when it comes to the beautiful game.

"There are so many good things about football in Glasgow on which we can build and we have lots of dedicated individuals and clubs working at all levels who can help us achieve our aims.

"This report offers our city a strong basis for a positive footballing future.

"Our recommendations look to grow the game at all levels, support a healthier more active lifestyle and will also benefit fans.

"Glasgow is a footballing city and Glasgow should always be a supporters' city. I believe we can work together to celebrate our clubs, our communities and our supporters to shape the future of football in Glasgow."

Representatives from Scottish football, Suppor-ters Direct Scotland, the city council, Glasgow Life and the Chamber of Comm-erce make up Glasgow's football taskforce, which calls for the development of the women's game.

It suggests setting up an 11-a-side knockout competition and cup for girls' teams, as well as creating an annual award recognising achievement for Glasgow girls and women in football.

Laura Montgomery, manager of women's side Glasgow City FC, said: "I am pleased to hear there will be a particular focus on womens' football because it doesn't exist just now.

"It would be nice to see a cup competition intro-duced and I would like to see how that develops.

"However, this would need to be well thought out as our senior calendar is full with domestic, international, Champions League and other games."

Taskforce recommen-dations also include contin-uing the Happy Hour for under-18s at synthetic pitches across the city. It was introduced two years ago in a bid to get more players coming from youth football to the top ranks.

To help make that happen under-18s get free access at five-a-side pitches.

At the launch of the new policy, city council leader Gordon Matheson said: "All supporters are suffering in this recession and our clubs are feeling the effects in lower attendances.

"We believe ways of encouraging higher attendances should be explored through lower prices and perhaps a price cap for visiting supporters' tickets, which will also help to improve the match day atmosphere and enhance spending in our city."

City council bosses are also looking at schools to increase access to football facilities for local clubs and communities.

And the masterplan suggests the city council works with clubs, suppor-ters and the voluntary sector to challenge racism, sectarianism and homo-phobia in the game.

It has also vowed to get behind the fans for the good of the sport.

IN a section titled Supporting the Supporters, partner organisations agreed most fans are "good citizens of Glasgow or welcome visitors to our great city".

The report goes on: "All contribute to making the city the vibrant place that it is. Yet too many stories about football dwell on some of the negative aspects of our game.

"We believe supporters should not be stigmatised for the simple pleasure of supporting a football team.

"We think the time is right to re-focus attention on the positive significance of football supporters in the life of our city."

With input from Supporters Direct Scotland, the taskforce looked to Germany for best practice in terms of fan involvement with their clubs, ticket pricing and youth development programmes.

Recommendations for supporting fans in Glasgow include considering integrated ticketing for football matches and public transport.

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Football

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