Ahead of Scotland’s game against England on Friday (11 Nov), Alison Johnstone MSP is calling for the SFA to sign a deal with a free-to-air broadcaster to allow more fans to watch Scotland attempt to qualify for a major tournament. Matches involving Gordon Strachan’s team are broadcast exclusively on Sky until 2018.
However, Scotland’s game with the Auld Enemy at Wembley will screen live on STV, but only because of the English FA’s broadcast agreement with sister channel ITV.
Alison Johnstone, health spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said: “More and more sport is moving to subscription-based TV channels. The BBC lost rights to show the Open golf to Sky and punters wanting to watch European football have to tune in to BT Sport for the Champions League and the Europa League.
“Fans shouldn’t feel like they have to fork out large sums of money to pay for sports channels, nor should they feel the need to cram into a pub to see a game. It’s understandable that the SFA will want to do a deal with the highest bidder, but considering England qualifiers are shown for free on ITV, there’s no reason why Scotland games can’t be shown on one or more terrestrial channel.
“We want children in Scotland to be inspired by the athletes they see on TV and a deal for future qualification matches on terrestrial could help us to produce the next Kenny Dalglish or Denis Law. At very least, it’ll encourage more children to go outside, kick a ball and play with friends.”
Alison, a qualified athletics coach and former competitive runner, added: “Ofcom’s code on designated live sports events rightly lists the World Cup and the European Championship finals as must-show games on territorial TV. It would be better if it was MSPs, rather than MPs, deciding what goes on that list and I suspect many at Holyrood would support free-to-air Scotland games if the ability to do so is devolved.”