Fans Survey ReportPrint This Post

Click here to download or open the original survey form

“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
~ Albert Camus

Take your pick from these two greats but in their own way they were both alluding to one of the biggest results of the recent Raith Trust organised Fans’ Survey.

Stop the press. Hold the back page. Raith Rovers fans are “normal”.

Whether Winston would want to stop and chat to them or Albert would find them exhausted is impossible to say but there’s no doubt that the fans they would encounter would be indistinguishable from the rest of the community. This is despite the poor image that often surrounds football supporters. However the one big difference is that 90% of fans are male.

Just under half of the Rovers support lives in Kirkcaldy. The more observant of you will have figured out that that means just over half live outside of the Lang Toun. Therefore there’s a significant travelling support for home games never mind the away ones.

Despite the travel implications almost two-thirds of the support attend all home matches. And eight out of ten said their cats preferred it. No hang on. Eight out of ten fans travelled to at least one away game. That’s more like it. Around 20% of fans also went to most away games which equates to a travelling support of around 400 people.

Although over 80% of fans travel to games by their own means the people who used the Supporters Club travel scheme gave it very positive reviews. Convenience, camaraderie and cost were cited as good reasons to use the buses and that was just the ones beginning with the letter “C”!

There’s been a lot of discussion about various aspects of attending Rovers matches. Stewarding and catering are two issues that are frequently criticised but the survey showed a greater breadth of opinion on these subjects than often appears on the website or in the pub.

In the case of stewarding you could split the fans into three groups. About a third thought it was at least good, another third weren’t too bothered and the third third (!) didn’t like it. This doesn’t seem too bad but if you consider that almost one in three supporters felt unhappy about their experience then you can see this carries significant implications for the club.

The thoughts on catering were quite similar to stewarding but with a greater amount of people who weren’t bothered. The quality was deemed pretty good but the variety slightly lacking. Similarly the club merchandise was seen as good quality and value for money but the range of goods was a little disappointing.

It’s a truism to say that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. In the three areas of stewarding, catering and merchandising the club manages to satisfy some of the people most of the time. But there’s room for improvement in all three areas. While hardly disastrous these results do give cause for concern. They may also explain why many people felt that the view in the stadium is good but the atmosphere could be improved.

The thing to be concerned about here isn’t so much the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction but that there are fans who attend games and may in time be put off by issues other than the quality of the football on offer. This is a hard theory to prove or disprove without further research in the wider community so if anyone has a bit of serious money burning a hole in their pocket then they know where to send it!

Club and Fans
Part of the survey looked at the attitude of the support towards the club. Reassuringly there was a high degree of agreement for the directors’ attempts to stabilize the finances of the club. There was also a feeling that the club had a business plan in place although there was mixed opinions about whether the objectives of the plan were clear.

A common complaint of most football fans is that their club doesn’t communicate with them. Given the previous assertion that Rovers fans are “normal” you won’t find it much of a surprise to hear that the majority of fans thought the clubs communication skills could be improved.

It’s also not surprising to find that a significant amount of fans thought the club could do better in their community relations, that local businesses remained a distant stranger or that there didn’t seem to be an ongoing relationship with Fife Council.

It’s worthwhile putting these opinions in context though. The last few years have seen major efforts expended just to keep the club viable and afloat. It’s therefore not surprising at a time when resources, in terms of money and people, are at a premium that areas such as community development and council partnerships aren’t exploited to the maximum. However if we want to look at it in a more positive light it shows that there is room for significant development of club in the coming years.

The Trust
One of the reasons the Trust decided to commission a survey was to try and understand the opinions of the Rovers fans. That didn’t just mean how fans thought about the club but also their opinions on the Trust itself.

It’s only about three years since the first tentative steps were taken to form the Trust. In that short time the Trust has accumulated a small but significant shareholding, funded youth development and now organised and conducted the first fans’ survey. Despite the relative youth of the organisation it seemed like a good time to find out what supporters thought. The feedback will also inform the Trust about the direction it should take in the coming years.

It’s therefore quite pleasing to report that there was a high degree of satisfaction expressed about the Trust’s work. In general there was agreement that fans were kept informed and that as an organisation the Trust listened to the opinions of supporters.

There was also agreement that the Trust had clear aims and objectives although there was fewer fans believed that these objectives were communicated clearly to the supporters.

It’s pleasing to report that fans thought that the Trust is heading in the right direction and that there is a clear strategic plan in place. Given this high degree of support from the support, it’s not surprising to find that fans also give their backing to the Trust playing a more influential role in the running of the club.

As previously mentioned in the results about the club, some context should also be provided here. The results about the Trust are very positive and highly encouraging. But there are a minority of fans who disagreed with many of the statements above. This should be viewed positively however. The Rovers support is a diverse (if mostly male) group so if the results had come out unanimously one way or the other then there would have been major cause for concern over the validity of the survey. Even Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf would have had trouble explaining that one.

The cost of membership of the Trust gets debated on an irregular basis by the board. There were a range of views expressed but generally there was support for a lower fee. About two thirds thought lower fees would encourage them to become a member while separately about a third said a lower fee would make them remain a member.

The cost of Trust membership is a slightly complicated issue as many people contribute in excess of the minimum £5 per month. Therefore any change must consider the overall effect on the income and membership of the Trust. It’s also important to consider what the Trust intends to do with its income and this is why the results of the survey and subsequent business plan for the Trust are so important.

It’s clear there is more work for the Trust to do to get its message of democratic fan involvement out to the Rovers support and ultimately the wider community. However in a short time much has already been achieved and there is clearly a great deal of respect amongst the fans for the work of the organisation.

In closing the Trust would like to express its thanks to the club for agreeing to let the survey be completed at the ground. Thanks also to the volunteers who helped give out and collect the survey and to Ken Foster for the hours of time and effort put in to collate and analyse the results. The Trust board especially thank the members of the Trust for providing the resources to get this unique and important study through from concept to completion.

Finally in true Oscars style thanks to all Rovers fans for participating and giving your honest opinions. We hope that many more of you will join the 100% supporter owned and run Trust this year. The Trust aims to improve the situation at the club for the fans and for the community. Each person that joins helps the Trust achieve just that little bit more.

We started with a quote so we’ll end with one:

“Here’s tae us! Wha’s like us? Gie few an thur aw deid.”

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