SCOTLAND’S play-off final for the World Cup will be free to watch if Steve Clark’s men beat Ukraine, it has been confirmed.
Sky holds the rights to broadcast the qualifying games for the Fifa World Cup, which is due to take place in Qatar later this year. Executives told MPs on Monday that Scotland’s key game will be free to watch, should the team make the grade.
Ali Law (above, right), the broadcaster’s head of policy, recognised the game was a “moment of national importance” and pledged viewers will not need to pay to watch.
Scotland will play either Austria or Wales after a match against Ukraine which has been pushed back because of the Russian invasion.
Law told the Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee there was still “a little bit of detail to work out” and that Sky was in discussions about the matter with STV.
He added: “Should Scotland get to the World Cup qualifying final, which has obviously now been rearranged given the circumstances, but should they get into the final and into the semi-final, we would partner with STV to show that on a free-to-watch basis.”
The Ukraine match will not be free to watch, Law confirmed.
But the SNP have called on Sky to go further and make that game free to watch.
Gavin Newlands, the party's sports spokesperson, said the match will "undoubtedly carry more significance as we welcome our Ukrainian friends".
He added: "The SNP has been clear that every Scotland fan must have the chance to watch these matches without the need to pay a subscription fee given the spiralling cost of living crisis.
"But this game will be more than just about sport given events in Ukraine, and we look forward to welcoming the Ukrainian team and their fans when they visit Hampden."
A date has yet to be settled for the match with the Eastern European side because of the ongoing war.
Law said the decision to not show the Ukraine game for free reflected Sky’s previous approach on “decisive” games.
He said Sky had a responsibility to “not erode [the] exclusivity” offered to subscribers but said this was balanced with making key sporting events free to watch.
Responding to a question from Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross on the criteria used to decide what games were free, Law said many matches could be important for a “huge number of people”.
But he said: “If you look at the incidents where we have [shown games for free] previously, they are one-offs.”