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Research LibrarySport & Economics

The economic contribution of the Scottish Professional Football League

By 2 June 2020No Comments
Scottish Professional Football League
Published: April 2020


This report was commissioned by the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) to estimate the economic contribution of the SPFL to the Scottish economy in the 2017-2018 season. The analysis in the report was carried out independently by the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) at the University of Strathclyde.


The contribution of the SPFL to the Scottish economy in the 2017-2018 season was measured through two channels: 1) the economic footprint of the SPFL clubs themselves; and 2) the economic boost from those attending matches involving clubs in the SPFL’s league and cup competitions. The first channel was examined by compiling data from club accounts on their economic activities, including their revenues and day-to-day spending. For the second, a fan survey was conducted, providing detailed information on spending undertaken by attendees at football match in order to capture the economic importance of supporter activities associated with matches. An economic model was then used to capture the direct impact of these clubs’ and spectator activities, and the wider spill-over effects on the Scottish economy.

Key Findings

The 2017-2018 season saw a total of 4,870,000 attendances at SPFL matches (including the SPFL cup competitions). SPFL club activities plus all spending by spectators contributed £444 million to Scottish GDP, helping to support 9300 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs. On a net basis (adjusting for the impact of spending which is not additional to the Scottish economy), contribution to the Scottish GDP was estimated at £214 million, helping to support around 5700 FTE jobs.


The findings from this report demonstrates the significant economic contribution of SPFL clubs and their fans to the Scottish economy in addition to the important social and cultural role of football in Scotland. To put this in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, the report suggests the enforced suspension of the SPFL will likely have a significant impact on the Scottish economy, and highlights the importance of games being able to return as soon as it is safe to do so. This report will be of immediate interest to those involved in the decision-making process regarding the issue of bringing the SPFL back. In the broader context of community sport in Scotland, the findings from this report provides solid evidence on the value of continuing to invest in Scottish football and will be of significant value to football bodies promoting their sport.