Sport in Scotland: report

The purpose of the report is to offer observations and recommendations on the current Scottish sporting landscape with a view to facilitating a more streamlined and coherent voice for Scottish sport.

Executive Summary

1. This report sets out the findings and recommendations from the consultancy to undertake a review of the Scottish Sporting Landscape. The consultancy was commissioned by the Scottish Government and undertaken by Professor Grant Jarvie from the University of Edinburgh[1].

2. The purpose of the report is to offer observations and recommendations on the current Scottish Sporting Landscape with a view to facilitating a more streamlined and coherent voice for Scottish sport.

3. The consultation involved four main stages (i) a briefing and introduction to remit; (ii) consultation through an online survey with key contacts identified by the Scottish Government and sportscotland (iii) a series of follow up correspondence, telephone and/or skype interviews, with 29 respondents; (iv) the analysis of the findings and the production of the final report.

4. The report is structured around the following headings: A short introduction; participant information; issues in Scottish sport; the Scottish sporting landscape; an effective voice for Scottish sport and key recommendations and observations.

Summary of Findings / Recommendations

Issues in Scottish Sport

5. The review noted both the issues facing individual sports organisations and the issues in Scottish sport as reported by respondents. It is evident that a significant overlap exists between the issues raised by individual sports organisations and the key reported issues faced by Scottish sport.

6. More respondents agree that Scottish sport is in a good place. There is, however, substantial evidence to suggest that the core issues facing Scottish sport include:

  • funding;
  • leadership; 
  • equality;
  • capability;
  • capacity;
  • strategy;
  • organisation

7. There are concerns about sports capability and capacity to evidence delivery against a range of outcomes beyond health.

RO1 Scottish society is changing and sport needs to adapt. A number of organisations claim to be the voice of Scottish sport, but to thrive, sport needs a clear agreed common purpose in order to be more joined up and work effectively. This could be achieved by sport organisations aligning themselves around shared, agreed and well-defined outcomes, perhaps in line with the Active Scotland Outcomes Framework.

RO2 The demands placed upon small and medium sized sports governing bodies, means that their capacity and in some cases capability, to deliver core objectives and outcomes is currently compromised. Necessary back office functions, such as human resources, legal and accountancy services should be shared much more across Governing Bodies. This could be achieved by one collaborative body facilitating a step change in the current level of support across, for example, governing bodies of sport.

RO3 Scottish sport would be helped if budgets were fixed over a longer period to allow for long term strategic planning.

RO4 The ability of Scottish sport to attract philanthropy as a significant additional income stream to support social outcomes is in its infancy.

The Scottish Sporting Landscape

8. The Scottish Sporting Landscape is complex. It operates within a world and country that is changing and sport needs to change too. Many countries promote the need to be more active, highlight the dangers of being inactive. It is also paramount that sport is delivered in a safe environment and captures the value to be gained from harnessing greater diversity.

9. The world of sport, both internationally and locally, is currently facing both external and internal threats. Some parts of the Scottish Sporting Landscape are thriving, embracing change and innovation, while other parts are struggling to cope with change both in terms of capacity and/or capability.

RO5 The sector would benefit from a comprehensive organisational map and shared understanding of Scottish sport, including the remits of different organisations.

RO6 A number of sporting organisations have historical remits, capacity and capability creating overlap and duplication. The strengths of these organisations should be harnessed to improve overall capacity and capability.

RO7 Scotland has given a lot to the world of sport but it also needs to consider further embracing opportunities that are presented.

RO8 A UN sport specific remit around sport for development and the 2030 sustainable development goals provides sport with an international mandate that should be grasped by Scotland.

RO9 The growth and advances in digital technology should be captured.

An Effective Voice for Scottish Sport

10. Sport is a cultural, social and economic asset to Scotland whose potential has still to be fully realised.

11. There is a significant opportunity to enable Scottish sport to be more effective and coherent. Other sporting nations have made the case for sport in a way that has

enabled sport to gain traction, long term funding and profile across Government Ministries.

12. Scotland as a country is changing and if Scottish sport is to thrive it requires a clear common agreed purpose, vision and clever investment that is owned not just across the Scottish Sporting Landscape but also all levels of government. There remains a significant opportunity for Scottish sport to be more collaborative and effective.

13. While real progress has been made, the opportunity for Scottish sport to deliver effectively against national outcomes and new international aspirations has still to be realised.

RO10 The review recommends that steps are taken to establish an independent Advisory Group for Sport or A National Sports Forum with a clear aim and terms of reference.

RO11 The review recognises the desire and aspiration for the sporting sector to attract funding from areas such as charitable foundations and corporate business.  It is recommended that this is an area for further exploration[2].

RO12 The review recommends that Scottish sport is supported to develop its potential as a soft power asset to advance Scotland’s cultural relations[3].

RO13 The Scottish Government has stated its ambition to embed human rights across all areas of policy in a way that makes a difference in the lives of people in Scotland and demonstrates global leadership in setting standards. Sport and human rights is an area where Scotland could aspire to be a world leader[4].

Overview of the Responses to the Survey

  • 70.8% (n=34) of the responses were from Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport.
  • 72.9% (n=35) of the survey responses reflected the views of organisations.
  • 65.2% (n=30) thought Scottish sport was in a good place.
  • 87.2% (n=41) agreed that the governance of Scottish sport was complex.
  • 8.9% (n=4) thought Scottish sport spoke with one voice.
  • 58.7% (n=27) of respondents did not feel represented nationally.
  • 100% (n=47) thought that the Scottish sporting voice could be more coherent and effective.
  • 12.8% (n=6) thought one organisation speaks for Scottish sport.
  • 97.6% (n=43) thought the Scottish Sporting Landscape could be more effective.
  • 57.4% (n=27) (highest response given from the multiple choices) thought that the sporting sector would be best served by having a representative advisory board for sport in Scotland.
  • 27.7% (n=13) replied that a reduced number of bodies should be speaking for Scottish sport.



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