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Scotland football games must be free to view, says Greens MSP

Scotland will play Ukraine at Hampden (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Scotland will play Ukraine at Hampden (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scotland’s international football fixtures should be free to view, a Scottish Greens MSP has said.

It comes as ITV confirmed Wednesday evening’s match at Hampden Park against Ukraine will be streamed for free.

It is the first of three Nations League fixtures to be played by Scotland during the international break.

However, Saturday’s match against the Republic of Ireland will be behind a paywall as it is broadcast by Premier Sports.

Politicians to take part in MoonWalk
Gillian Mackay MSP has called for Scotland games to remain free to watch (Katharine Hay/PA)

Gillian Mackay, the Scottish Greens health and sports spokesperson, has called on the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to make future international games available to watch without a subscription.

It is hoped the move could inspire the athletes of the future.

The Central Scotland MSP said: “It is great that the match will be free to view in Scotland, but that should not be the exception.

“All of our international matches should be free to watch, rather than fans being forced to hand over large sums for a subscription during a cost crisis, or feeling like they need to be crammed into a pub.

“If we want children to look up to our athletes, or to be inspired by them, then they need to be able to see them in action.

“Our national team should be for all of us.

“Far too many of our sporting events are already far too expensive for families to attend, or they are hidden behind a costly paywall.

“Like many, including the thousands of Ukrainians who have made a home in Scotland, I will be watching the game tonight.

“I am glad that it will be free and available to as many people as possible.

“That is why I am urging the SFA to make sure that the same can be said of all future matches.”

SNP MP Gavin Newlands welcomed steps to make Scotland games free to watch for fans, but said broadcasters needed to “go further” when it comes to making “crucial games more accessible to fans”.

Mr Newlands said: “There is no reason why Scotland cannot have similar arrangements in place like in Wales, where broadcaster S4C has successfully secured the rights to show Welsh international and domestic matches for the next few years.

“With the cost of living crisis spiralling out of control, and households struggling to make ends meet, the reality is that sport is often an escape for many people from the challenges they face in their lives.

“We should be working to ensure more people have access to games rather than saddling them with costly subscriptions.”

The Scottish Conservatives have joined the calls for future games to be free.

The party’s culture spokesperson, Donald Cameron, said: “In an ideal world, all Scotland internationals would be similarly available for those supporters who can’t attend matches in person or afford a costly subscription.

“The SFA must take this – and the impact on participation levels in our national sport – into account, and balance it against financial considerations, when deciding on awarding contracts for the rights to show Scotland internationals.”