Ministers to make case for Scotland matches to be free-to-air

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said the Scottish Government will launch a consultation to make Scotland matches free to air.

SNP ministers to make case to UK Government for Scotland matches to be free-to-air SNS Group

The Scottish Government will make a case for major Scotland matches to be shown on “free” channels.

A new consultation will be formed as part of a bid to persuade the UK Government to change the rules on televised live sport.

Scotland matches in recent years have been broadcast on paid television services, including Viaplay.

The Scottish Government has said national sporting events, such as Scotland’s men’s and women’s football qualifiers for the World Cup and European Championships, should be protected for free-to-air broadcast.

Scotland matches in major men’s and women’s tournaments are on the protected list, but qualifiers are not – with the rights held for these matches by UEFA.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said the consultation has been launched as the UK Government is “refusing to act to resolve the situation for Scotland fans”.

He said: “The Scottish Government is taking a further step towards making major Scotland international football matches available free-to-air, which would allow the whole country to get behind our national teams in important qualifying fixtures.

“Scots celebrated as our men’s national team charged their way on scintillating form into this year’s Euro Championships, and we’ll all be behind the women’s national team when their qualifiers get underway next month, but most Scots are blocked from watching the national team with the bulk of games shown on a pay-per-view basis.  

“With so much at stake in qualifiers, our vision is for all fans to be able to watch their national teams as they battle to reach the world’s biggest competitions.

“With the full powers of independence, the Scottish Government would have the power to determine the list of events that should be available to broadcast free-to-air to reflect the interests of Scottish audiences, and enable broadcasters who have a public service remit to better meet these needs.

“But broadcasting policy is currently reserved to the UK Government, and only Westminster can add these matches being included in the so-called “crown jewels” of international sporting fixtures for free-to-air broadcast.

“With the UK Government refusing to act to resolve the situation for Scotland fans, the Scottish Government will launch a consultation on the issue to help progress the campaign to ensure Scotland international qualifying matches are on terrestrial TV.

“Further evaluation work will be taken forward to understand the implications such a decision would have for rights holders, including the SFA, before the Scottish Government’s case is brought forward to the UK Government.”

With the men’s team having qualified for Euro 2024 in Germany, their first group game against the hosts will be shown live on STV, while the subsequent two against Switzerland and Hungary will be carried by the BBC.

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