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National associations

Developing football in Scotland

Diligent strategic work and a strong portfolio of initiatives and projects are setting the course for the future in Scotland – and the national team’s presence at UEFA EURO 2020 is set to inspire a generation of aspiring young footballers.


The Scottish FA’s Power of Football strategy includes six Gamechanger objectives designed to inspire the nation, transform lives and build a united and successful game:

  • Qualify consistently and compete in major tournaments
  • Accelerate the growth of girls’ and women’s football
  • Inspire the nation through lifelong participation
  • Deliver a world-leading coach education and development system
  • Modernise the Home of Scottish Football
  • Connect Scottish football’s diverse communities

The Scottish association’s manifesto commitment is to ensure that football is available to all, at less cost. The challenge is also the opportunity for all stakeholders, including national and local government, to ensure ample provision of facilities, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Scottish football delivers more than €1bn in social return on investment (SROI), as demonstrated by a landmark UEFA study illustrating the unique benefits of football participation nationwide. The report provides tangible evidence of the many ways in which football improves the lives of those living within Scottish society.

The creation of an equality strategy Football Unites and the world’s first Para Football Affiliated National Association shows the association’s commitment to Football For All.

The Scottish FA has been integral to the national game’s response to and recovery from the pandemic. This included provision of a single group of top management from the national association and professional leagues to ensure a rapid and consistent response to the crisis. In addition, the association worked with Scottish government to unlock a £30 million COVID relief fund for the men’s and women’s senior game, and launched Give for Grassroots, a support fund that enabled fans of Scottish football to help grassroots clubs continue to provide for children within their local communities.

The creation of a performance strategy, including seven regional performance schools, has been a key factor in improving the pathway through national youth teams. This has culminated in the first two performance school graduates, Nathan Patterson (Rangers) and Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), being selected for the UEFA EURO 2020 squad.

After the success of the Scotland women’s national team in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2017, the men’s team presence at a major tournament for the first time in 23 years has been enhanced by Hampden Park’s role as a EURO 2020 host. A new generation of aspiring footballers, boys and girls, can now be inspired by current heroes and not just be reminded of past legends.

UEFA support

UEFA’s HatTrick programme has helped fund important Scottish FA initiatives and programmes over the years. In recent times, funding has been given to two particular projects:

How EURO funds support Scottish football projects

Scotland United: A 2020 Vision

The Scotland United plan for the 2015–20 period identified the SFA’s organisational vision, objectives and a series of initiatives and actions needed to achieve certain targets. The plan, aimed at raising standards in the national game at all levels, was underpinned by the following four pillars and accompanying objectives:

  • Perform and Win
    Make Scotland a world-class football nation, qualifying for major tournament finals, founded on a successful performance culture
  • Strong Quality Growth
    Provide opportunities and the facilities to make the national sport accessible to all
  • Improving Football’s Finances
    Help support and cultivate a sustainable game
  • Leading the Game
    Strive to govern the game with respect and trust

Within each pillar, the SFA established a detailed set of initiatives to ensure it attained its strategic objectives.

Club Academy Scotland

The SFA’s Club Academy Scotland programme, part of the Scotland United: A 2020 Vision plan (2015–20), has worked on delivering a series of key objectives:

  • Promote, foster and develop football for elite and talented young players at age levels 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15, and dual 16/17 age band.
  • Develop a challenging performance environment and structure for Scotland’s elite and talented young players through the implementation, assessment and evaluation of agreed Club Academy Scotland standards.
  • Observe and comply with the terms of the SFA Performance Strategy.
  • Provide and control an organised youth development match programme for clubs participating in the Club Academy Scotland programme in accordance with the principles of the programme.
  • Develop world-class standards in all areas of the Club Academy Scotland programme.
  • Perform and Win

UEFA Foundation for Children in Scotland

Set up in 2015, the UEFA foundation uses football as a vehicle to help improve children’s lives by supporting hundreds of campaigns and projects across Europe and around the world.


GoFitba is a football-based health and well-being project that provides opportunities for Scotland’s most disadvantaged primary schoolchildren living in poverty to take part in a free-to-access, fun sport and health education initiative delivered by partner community football clubs across the country.


Provide disadvantaged primary schoolchildren with opportunities to take part in free-to-access fun football activities.

• Educate the project participants on the importance of being active in their daily lives, and using the project as a vehicle to improve their knowledge and understanding, self-esteem and confidence.

• Make use of the interactive GoFitba learning journal to educate the project participants on the importance of leading a healthier lifestyle through diet and nutrition, and to increase the children’s confidence of working in groups.

• Provide each participant with a hot, healthy meal at the end of each weekly session to help reinforce their learning on diet and nutrition and to tackle food poverty by providing nutritious food outside school hours.

• Host a showcase event for the participants and their parents/guardians and school teachers. This element of the project is geared at extending the importance of leading an active, healthy lifestyle through exercise, diet and nutrition to the wider family unit. It also helps to bring the participants, their families, school teachers and the project coaches together to strengthen the links between the local football club and the broader community.


Association history

19th century: Football begins to gain respectability and social prominence as it is introduced in some schools.
1867: Scotland’s first club, Queen’s Park, is formed, leading to the game’s rapid growth across the country.
1873: The Scottish Football Association – the world’s second-oldest national association – is formed by eight clubs.
1886: The Scottish FA joins the other British associations as founder members of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), football’s lawmakers.
Start of the 20th century: Football becomes Scotland's most popular spectator sport.
1910: The Scottish FA joins FIFA.
1954: The association is a founder member of UEFA.
1967: Celtic win the European Champion Clubs’ Cup – the first British club to do so.
1972: Rangers capture the UEFA European Cup Winners’ Cup.
1983: Aberdeen clinch the Cup Winners’ Cup title.

National team competitions

1872: The Scottish national team’s first match against English in Glasgow ends in a goalless draw.
1968: 130,711 spectators watch Scotland’s EURO qualifier against England at Hampden Park, Glasgow – a record crowd for a European Championship match.
1972: Scotland’s women’s team play their first international match against England.
1998: The Scottish FA assumes direct responsibility for women’s football.
2014: Glasgow’s Hampden Park is unveiled as a UEFA EURO 2020 venue.
2017: The Scottish women’s national football team qualify for their first major finals when they reach EURO 2017.
2019: Scotland book a place at UEFA EURO 2020 – their third appearance after 1992 and 1996. Scotland have qualified for eight FIFA World Cup final tournaments (1954, 1958, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998).


Mike Mulraney

Nationality: British
Date of birth: 2 December 1968
Association president since: 2023

Mike Mulraney
Mike MulraneySNS Group / SFA

General secretary

Ian Maxwell

Nationality: British
Date of birth: 2 May 1975
Association CEO since: 2018

Ian Maxwell
Ian Maxwell©SFA

Scottish Football Association website