Hibernian Football Club Building Back Better: Research Report

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This report specifically focuses upon Hibernian Football Club and draws upon a specific data-driven sentiment analysis, a specific social-demographic analysis and a secondary body of reports relating to the future of sport. It is structured around three main sections (i) Scottish Football and Covid 19, (ii) Hibernian Football Club and Covid 19 and (iii) Recommendations and Observations.

Key Findings
1 The European Commission’s report on the impact of the pandemic on the sport sector referred to a wide range of impacts, including broader economic changes, reduced governmental income, cancellation of events, reduced sponsorship money, reduced member financing, reduced sports broadcasting income, reduced sports tourism income, and reduced production and retail of sporting goods and equipment brought about by the closure of production facilities and retail trade. It pointed to the likelihood that the demand for goods and services would be reduced due to unemployment, reduced working hours and/or fear of infection.

2The sports industry in general across the UK was unprepared and significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is not the first study to point out that a preventive and anticipative attitude is effective in building resilience to infectious diseases within a sporting context. The Scottish football industry followed Scottish Government guidelines. Internationally, nationally and locally the Covid-19 and the responses to it were data driven and informed.

3. As Scotland’s most popular sport the opportunity for football to enable
a positive Scottish narrative beyond Scotland is a potential story of solidarity innovative support, resilience, and connectivity between people regardless of geographic distance.

4. The partner clubs all recognised that the state of the economy affected the ability of supporters to maximise access to what the club has to offer. It is vital that the clubs continue to listen to what the fan base and potential fan base are saying and whether the attitude of fans towards the club’s activities are seen positively, negatively, or simply in a neutral way. Clubs know who the key people in their communication network are and reach out to them to develop formal and informal strategic alliances. All of the clubs recognised the importance of being sensitive to the current context and all the clubs were sensitive to how the fans would react to 2020/2021 season ticket campaigns. Football and football fans have not been immune from the unprecedented political, economic and health environment created by this pandemic.

5. There is a big difference between preparedness, readiness, and response. The idea that preparedness has a beginning, and an end date is false. Whether it be Sars in 2002, H5N1 in 2004, H1N1 in 2009, Mers in 2012, ebola in 2013, Zika in 2019 and Covid - 19 in 2019 and its subsequent variants there is a relentless temporal regularity. Preparedness and readiness are a constant, they do not end, needs to be part of the fabric of Scottish society including football and sport as it looks to the future.

6.The pandemic has not gone but has created a set of circumstances which has forced Scottish football and society to reflect about what is important. This needs to continue in an informed way. By doing so it safeguards its future and offers financial, economic and political benefits to the people of Scotland.

7. The need to remain flexible, innovative, agile, connected and responsive are key observations and lesson from the pandemic for football organisations, sport and society.

8. No specific football data lab or sports lab has been established to serve the needs of the football/industry. This should be addressed. Edinburgh University with investment can provide a data analytics service for the 21st century that could enable Scottish football and indeed other sports to better understand, for example, business analytics and the online, offline, local, and international communities that, in this case, Scottish football depends upon.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • football
  • COVID-19
  • Scotland
  • poverty
  • inequality
  • health


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