PETE Wishart is among a number of MPs calling for action from the UK Government and broadcasters to ensure more Scots can watch major sporting events for free.

Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee said the government should be more proactive in acknowledging the frustration of Scottish fans. 

In a report, it said public service broadcasters are often priced out of events like international football and that rights holders had no incentive to give up their exclusivity. 

Why are Scotland men’s team games not available for free? 

Appearing on Good Morning Scotland, Wishart was asked about Sunday’s Old Firm cup final which was only available via Premier Sports. 

He replied by saying that although this was a correct example, the committee’s focus was on the national team. 

The National: Pete Wishart has called for major sporting events to be free for fansPete Wishart has called for major sporting events to be free for fans (Image: Colin Mearns)

The Scotland men’s team games are currently broadcast by Premier Sports. This would change should the team qualify for a major tournament but qualifying and Nations League matches are currently not free to view. 

As part of the solution to this, Wishart called on the UK Government to include important games on the Listed Events schedule. 

What is the Listed Events schedule? 

Wishart explained exactly what this is during his interview with the BBC. “It’s a list of sporting events that are required to be shown on free to access TV”.

The only Scottish football game covered on this is the Scottish Cup Final. Other events include the Wimbledon and World Cup finals. 

The ongoing Six Nations is also on the list. 

What is being called for? 

“We’re saying that there’s a case if an arrangement cannot be met between the rights holders and public service broadcasters that we look to include some of these important qualifiers”, Wishart said. 

The MP acknowledged that the vast sums of money exchanged for the rights to broadcast games is crucial to the Scottish football structure. 

READ MORE: MSP to push for government legislation to snuff out pyrotechnics

Asked how he would replace this money if the likes of BBC and ITV couldn’t afford to pay for the games, Wishart said: “Well what we’re appealing to is to look at this in the round and realise this is important to Scottish football fans and perhaps do something like what Sky did with STV in the run up to the world cup qualifiers where they were prepared to let that semi-final be broadcast.

“What we’re expecting to do is to acknowledge the immense frustration of Scottish football fans.”

He added: “If a means cannot be found then this is where government has the right to intervene to say this must be allowed and available and of course the government would pay to make sure this is covered as they do with the Six Nations championship.”

What about England and Wales?

All of the England men’s teams upcoming qualifiers for Euro 2024 will be available for free on Channel 4. 

Wishart spoke of how the frustration for fans was compounded when they turned on their TV and seen other nations able to watch their team for free. 

He also explained how Welsh games are broadcast with Welsh commentary on the channel S4C. 

What has the UK Government said?

A spokesman from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “Broadcasting rights provide essential income for our best loved sports. We have a duty to ensure listed events rules strike a balance between ensuring the UK’s biggest sporting moments are available to all while protecting competition organisers’ right to secure the investment their sports need. 

“While we have no plans to review the current list – that covers numerous events of national importance including the Scottish FA Cup final and Scotland’s Six Nations matches – we are looking at whether expanding the rules to cover digital platforms would offer audiences more access to these blockbuster events.”