Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to scrap the coronavirus restriction ban on amateur league football matches in level three areas.
Current restrictions mean those in level three areas, which includes 35,000 registered adult amateur players across Scotland’s central belt, are prohibited from playing, while professional and semi-professional football is allowed.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has written to the First Minister urging her to lift this restriction.
He said amateur players and supporters believe “restrictions have been applied inconsistently between the status of the level of football being played and not the safety measures that the clubs operate”.
He added: “As a result, the current restrictions have created a two-tiered football system in Scotland, where semi-professional football teams and players are given exemptions to carry on competing in their leagues, whilst amateur teams are not.
“As I understand it, semi-pro teams follow exactly the same Covid procedures as teams in the amateur league and ‘gatherings’ are similar in size.
“Whilst I understand that protecting public health and reducing the risk of the spread of the coronavirus are paramount, I believe that consideration should be given to finding a workable solution that allows the amateur football leagues to safely carry out games, under the same provisions that the professional leagues are able to.”
Mr Leonard continued: “Football remains Scotland’s most popular sport, it helps many people, players and fans, to focus their minds and efforts on something that provides a lot of happiness, that is why having a blanket ban does not work.”
He called on the First Minister to hold urgent talks on lifting the ban with the Scottish Amateur Football Association president, Stuart Urquhart.
Mr Urquhart raised the issue with the Scottish Labour leader after the party launched a campaign for a Scottish Football Aid fund to help parts of the sport threatened by coronavirus.