Community Football is worth £97.3M to the Region

In March 2013, I swapped west for North-east Scotland, Paisley for Aberdeen, St Mirren for the Dons, personally and professionally it was and still is the best decision I have ever made. ‘Off the pitch’ in the 6 years since I have become a homeowner in Bucksburn and now Inverurie, proposed to my now wonderful wife at the delightful Dunnottar Castle, and parents to our amazing Aberdonian little girl.

‘On the pitch’ I have been delighted to play my part in the rise of Aberdeen FC’s Partner Charity, Aberdeen FC Community Trust (AFCCT) which celebrates its 5th Birthday on July 1, this summer. Our Football For Life, Education and Healthy Communities projects engage with over 20,000 people across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire on an annual basis. Like many of the other fantastic Charities in the North-east, we have countless numbers of people shouting from the Pittodrie terracing and beyond about how the support and opportunities provided by AFCCT have changed their lives for the better. Alongside that we have local, national and international recognition which sits pride of place in the Pittodrie Boardroom beside priceless AFC memorabilia. But now we are delighted to have in place unique and tangible evidence which demonstrates the true value of football participation to our communities.

Substance, commissioned by UEFA and the Scottish FA have proven that community football participation is worth £97.3M to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

UEFA GROW is their central business development support programme which works with the National Associations to systematically and strategically grow the game throughout Europe. The Scottish FA were selected as 1 of 3 National Associations to participate in a Social Return on Investment (SROI) piece of research, with Scotland selected as the nation to provide Europe’s first ever Regional SROI research on the true value of football participation. Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire were selected based on its urban and rural profile, the sheer volume of volunteer led grassroots football activity, and of course the prominence of Aberdeen FC in the Region.

With 71,000 community football participants in the North-east, we currently have £16.6M directly contributing to the local economy, £12.9M economically impacting on social benefits, and significantly £67.6M in healthcare savings. The true value of football is way beyond the 90 minutes.

Why would a Football Club be interested in tackling food poverty, promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, combating social isolation, developing the future workforce, and preventing long-term health conditions? At AFCCT we see supporting our communities as our moral duty, it’s the right thing to do. At a time when the public purse requires more for less, civic innovation is required to nurture a culture of confidence. We believe football is part of the solution.

If you would like to hear more about the work of Aberdeen FC Community Trust, I’d love to connect with you. Please contact me via e-mail on

Steven Sweeney, community operations manager, Aberdeen FC Community Trust

Steven Sweeney, community operations manager, Aberdeen FC Community Trust