Scottish community clubs contribute tens of millions of euros to their local communities, according to the next phase of a pioneering UEFA research study.

Ayr United Football Academy and Spartans Community Football Academy were selected to participate in the UEFA pilot project to determine their tangible value of their participants and programmes to their respective communities.

The study shows that the pair deliver millions of euros of benefit to their local areas, from savings in health care costs to volunteer programmes and investment in infrastructure.

Following the success of the national study in 2018, which revealed that participation in grassroots football delivers more than €1.35bn euros – around £1.25 billion – of positive value to Scottish society, Scotland was selected as the first nation to benefit from the next phase of the UEFA GROW SROI model, focusing on community benefits.

The UEFA GROW SROI model allows for a monetary value to be placed on mass participation in football across a spectrum of economic, health and social outcomes. You can view the study here.

This latest phase of the research shows that Spartans contribute more than €6 million euros in value to the local community, including:

  • €2.5 million euros from investment in infrastructure
  • €1 million euros in value from volunteering
  • €1.5 million euros value in subjective wellbeing
  • €170,000 euros in improved mental health
  • €100,000 euros in reducing Type I and Type II diabetes

Ayr United, meanwhile, contributed almost €10 million euros in value to the surrounding community, including:

  • €4.8 million euros in subjective wellbeing
  • More than €500,000 euros in improved mental health
  • €275,000 value in tackling dementia
  • €250,000 in combatting absences from school
  • €350,000 in educational attainment

The model, which is already in the process of being rolled out to other countries across Europe, will now be made available to other community clubs across Scotland, with the intention of creating an online tool that allows clubs to input their own data to calculate their value to the local community.

Ian Maxwell, Scottish FA Chief Executive: “This next phase of UEFA research is invaluable in proving that the benefits of Scottish football extend far beyond 90 minutes.

“We have been well aware for some time of the importance of Scottish community clubs to their local areas and this study now helps us put a figure on that.

“The fantastic work that Ayr United and Spartans undertake has long established them as pillars of their respective communities and it is rewarding to see such impressive figures in vital areas such as health and mental wellbeing.

“Having access to this data will hopefully go some way to helping these community clubs to attract further investment, allowing them to improve what they offer to their communities and, in turn, growing the value that they provide.”

Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing: “Football is Scotland’s national game and can be a powerful force for good in our communities.

“This report is an important piece of work, and the culmination of a unique partnership between the Scottish Government, sportscotland, the Scottish FA and UEFA over many months to produce robust evidence of football’s contribution to our communities and society.

“The Spartans Football Club and Ayr United are deep rooted in their communities delivering a wide range of activity which is improving lives and life chances.

“As this report clearly states, the many programmes delivered by both clubs is helping people stay active, improve their physical and mental health, and tackle issues ranging from loneliness and isolation to education and community safety.”

Noel Mooney, Head of National Association Business Development at UEFA: “UEFA believe in the power of playing football to contribute to a better society, stronger communities and healthier people.

“The UEFA GROW SROI model quantifies just how beneficial playing football is and we look forward to working with the Scottish FA to continue to grow participation in Scotland for all of these reasons.

“We cannot do this without the support of the Government, local councils and other stakeholders who share our vision of a happier, healthier society, however.

“The UEFA GROW SROI model shows that recreational football is worth €1.35 billion euros to the Scottish economy and now we can demonstrate what the value of each club brings with this new club calculator.

“We know that football is a powerful force for good in our communities and through the SROI we can now demonstrate that investment can and does have a significant impact on Scottish society.

Craig Graham, Chair of Spartans FC: “The results of this fantastic study show the brilliant economic, social and health impact that football has on our community in Edinburgh – an impact that I am sure is replicated the many superb community clubs across Scotland through. 

“With the study proving the remarkable social return on investment that clubs such as ourselves provide, hopefully a variety of stakeholders will be encouraged to increase their financial support for Scottish football clubs so we can continue to invest and improve the already remarkable work that we carry out.”

Allan Gunning, Chair of Ayr United Football Academy: "The SROI model has provided Ayr United Football Academy with a measure of how effective our programmes are in creating value for local communities. 

“Together with the positive evidence we have from individual case studies, a compelling case emerges for growing football participation and we are already having positive discussions with key stakeholders about how this can be achieved.”