PUBLIC service broadcasters must give Scotland football teams more respect by giving matches wider coverage across free-to-air channels, a campaigning MP has said.

On Tuesday evening, a vital World Cup qualifier between Scotland and Ireland at Hampden Park was only shown on BBC Alba and the iPlayer, despite there being a dedicated BBC Scotland channel and BBC One Scotland.

Meanwhile, BBC Two Wales showed live coverage of an equally important tie between Wales and Switzerland and, to rub more salt into the wound, a non-competitive England women’s match against the Czech Republic was shown live on STV.

While the Scotland match was on BBC Alba, the BBC Scotland channel was showing Paramedics on Scene and The Nine.

It is a familiar tale, with fans having long held a grudge against broadcasters for not giving them better quality access to Scotland matches. Alba MP Kenny MacAskill criticised the UK broadcasting set-up in 2020 which left the Tartan Army having to go to a pub or sign up for Sky to watch the men’s team beat Israel in a key European qualifier, while an England friendly was on STV.

The situation on Tuesday night led to numerous complaints from frustrated fans on social media.

And MP Gavin Newlands, who has long called for better coverage of the national teams on free-to-air channels, said while BBC Alba has done a great job in covering women’s football, it is about time other broadcasters gave Scotland football teams the respect they deserve.

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The SNP MP said: “Over recent years, BBC Alba have done a fantastic job in covering women’s football and giving it the platform and exposure it deserves – surely a shining example of real public service broadcasting - but other broadcasters also need to step up to the plate.

“Women’s and girls’ football in Scotland is at a high point, despite Tuesday’s disappointments [Scotland lost 1-0 to Ireland], and it’s absolutely vital that the whole country is able to be part of the journey for future tournaments.

The National: Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands (Image: NQ Staff)

“The availability of the game online and via iPlayer was welcome, but I know Scotland fans who ended up watching the game via RTÉ and their English language commentary.

“Both our senior national teams represent more than just football – they are a fundamental part of our national culture and society and deserve to have the widest coverage possible.

“It can’t be beyond the wit of all our public service broadcasters and the footballing authorities to reflect that impact and make sure Scotland’s men and women are accord the respect they are due.”

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While BBC Alba is available to anyone with a TV licence, it is not an HD channel and for those streaming on the iPlayer – which had technical issues for several minutes at the start - the coverage would inevitably have been slightly behind time.

Highlights of the match were shown on the BBC Scotland channel at 11pm, but the decision to not show the contest live was branded “second-class” by some on social media.

A BBC spokesperson said: “BBC ALBA hold the rights for live coverage of Scotland Women’s National Team (SWNT). 

“The channel is a service for all of Scotland and is widely available.

“BBC Scotland worked with BBC ALBA to provide English-language commentary via BBC ALBA/BBC Red Button.

“The provision of Gaelic and English commentary would have made the match accessible to all viewers and both versions were also available via BBC iPlayer in HD.”

An STV spokesperson said: “STV did not have the rights to show the women’s World Cup qualifier last night, the BBC did.

“With regards to the match shown on STV last night [the England match], commissioning decisions for the Channel 3 network are made by ITV and are outwith our control.”