It has been the flagship project in the Scottish FA’s club accreditation programme since its inception over a decade ago, but the Scottish FA’s Quality Mark scheme has now undergone something of a facelift.

Part of the Scottish FA’s commitment to encouraging clubs to consistently strive for higher standards, the refreshed Quality Mark scheme was introduced at the start of 2019 with a view towards modernising and streamlining the process for clubs nationwide.

Kevin Lee, Scottish FA Regional Manager for the East region, provided more information on the newly-refreshed programme.

What is Quality Mark and why is it important to Scotland’s clubs?

The Scottish FA recognises that football clubs are the best place to grow and develop our game. Our role at the Scottish FA is to empower and enable our clubs to do just that. In 2007, the Scottish FA Quality Mark programme was created to support Scottish FA staff and clubs through this journey.

The original Quality Mark objectives were established in 2007 and are still as relevant today as they were then. These objectives include establishing football at the heart of our nation’s communities, raising the standards of playing, coaching and administration within grassroots football, and creating a ‘Community Club’ orientated system.

The programme has allowed clubs across the country to push themselves to bigger and better things, improving the provision of Football For All nationwide.

How successful has the programme been to date?

The programme has now been in existence for over 10 years with a total of 552 accredited clubs, including over 100 that have achieved either Gold or Platinum status. Since 2007 the programme has supported Scottish football clubs to grow and develop both on and off the field, something of which we are extremely proud.

This development can take many forms – for example, we have seen clubs increase participation, create links between local schools and themselves and develop governance structures, as well as embed themselves further into their local communities.

What changes have been made to the programme and why have these changes been made?

In January 2017, a Club Services Quality Improvement Group was created. The aim of this group was to modernise & refresh the Quality Mark programme. Specifically, the group sought to identify the key strengths and areas for development within Quality Mark and support the creation of a new framework for the programme.

After conducting a programme consultation, the feedback the group received highlighted that Quality Mark was seen as a valued tool, with only minor changes required. Three key development areas were identified – to align the Quality Mark language and criteria with other key Scottish FA Club Accreditation and Licencing programmes, to streamline the criteria required to achieve a Quality Mark standard and to amend supporting documents to provide a more bespoke club service.

In addition, the management and assessment of the Quality Mark programme will now be online with the Football Administration System. This will eliminate the need to produce hard copies of Quality Mark documents. Lastly, the branding of Quality Mark has been improved to provide a more prestigious look and a closer link to Scottish FA’s corporate branding.

What benefits will these changes provide to the programme and community clubs?

The Scottish FA has a responsibility to continue to support and develop our football clubs, with the Quality Mark programme having been a key vehicle in delivering this vision over the last 12 years.

Quality Mark will continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our clubs. We are confident that the subtle but significant changes to the programme will see Quality Mark continue to support the growth and development of our clubs for many years to come.