Football has a positive impact on people’s lives in many ways

Monday September 18th 2023

Colin Beattie MSP
Colin Beattie MSP, Midlothian North & Musselburgh, writes his monthly column for Midlothian View

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the Scottish Football Association, giving us an opportunity to celebrate the positive contribution of our national sport in Scotland.

From the grassroots to the professional level, football has a positive impact on people’s lives in many ways. Playing football is a great way to stay active and healthy; it can improve fitness, reduce stress and anxiety. Football can also help create a sense of community cohesion and promote social inclusion.

Scotland leads the way in match attendance per capita across Europe, highlighting how important this great sport is to our culture. Our national sport also contributes massively to our economy. During the 2022/23 season, Scottish football clubs welcomed over five million attendees, benefiting our hospitality sector. This is despite efforts from the Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain’s attempt to undermine Scottish football fans.

The Traffic Commissioner published ill thought-out proposals for consultation last week looking to change guidelines around supporters’ buses in Scotland. These unworkable plans were proposed without consultation with the Scottish Government, clubs, or fans. This demonstrated a complete disregard for Scotland and our national game, and all parties in the Scottish Parliament condemned these plans.

Even Conservative MSPs agreed that these decisions should be reserved for the Scottish authorities. I am happy to hear that Conservative MSPs believe that decisions affecting Scotland, are best made in Scotland.

Fortunately, this consultation has ceased, and Scottish football fans can continue to support their club on away days as they currently do. I welcome the scrapping of these outrageous proposals, and I am grateful for the Scottish Government continuing to support Scottish football fans.

I commend the work of my colleagues in Westminster in their attempts to pressure the UK Government to explore the possibility of placing Scotland Men National Team games under listed events legislation, enabling the broadcast rights to be offered to free-to-air broadcasters. Scotland Women National Team games are regularly broadcast on free-to-air channels and their success has inspired the next generation of women footballers. Unfortunately, these calls were rejected by the UK Government, highlighting Westminster’s contempt for Scottish football and its fans.

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