Douglas Ross: Scottish grassroots football facing crisis over access to facilities

Grassroots football in Scotland is facing a “crisis” due to a lack of access to facilities, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said.

He was speaking in the House of Commons during an adjournment debate to mark 150 years of the Scottish Football Association.

Mr Ross, the MP for Moray, said grassroots football is “the lifeblood of the game in Scotland”, but warned that young people in parts of Scotland are struggling to access the facilities needed to play.

He told the Commons: “I think it’s fair to say that Scotland is facing a crisis with facilities for football and people playing grassroots football.

“Now, more than ever before, many communities are faced with the stark reality that either there are not enough facilities to make sure that all levels of the game and all areas of the game are fully serviced, or, in too many cases, young people in particular are priced out of these facilities.

“Many new facilities get built by local authorities, by others, and then they simply become unaffordable, and often it’s just the clubs that have money coming in that can afford them.”

He added: “I’d like us to more seriously look at the lack of facilities, the lack of availability of facilities in Scotland to make sure they are there for the next generation.”

Mr Ross read out a statement he said was provided by the president of the Scottish FA, Mike Mulraney, which said: “I ask that we pull our resources to ensure that this is a game that is accessible to all, with no barriers.

“For that we need urgent investment, innovative thinking, and a collective will.”

Mr Ross said: “Let us ensure that we don’t just recognise the 150th anniversary by celebrating the past, praising the present successes, but let’s also prepare for the future, to give young people in Scotland that ambitious outward looking prospect of ability to play at whatever level they wish.”

Scotland Office minister John Lamont said: “This United Kingdom Government is committed to providing support to the grassroots game in Scotland as we look to inspire the next generation of footballers who will create their own legacy.

“This was a point well made by him in his opening speech about the importance of investment in grassroots sports.

“From 2021 to 2025, the UK Government will provide the Scottish Football Association with over £20 million to build and improve grassroots football facilities the length and breadth of Scotland.”