THE Scottish Government is calling on the UK to make major Scotland international football matches free-to-air.

A consultation has been launched in a bid to persuade the UK Government to alter the rules on televised sport.

At present, Scotland matches in both men’s and women’s tournaments such as the World Cup or Euros are included on a list of protected sporting events which remain free-to-air.

However, the Scottish Government wants qualifying matches for such tournaments to be added to the list.

The Uefa currently hold the rights to these matches, which are often sold to the highest bidder – a situation which can result in matches only being broadcast behind a paywall.

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First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government is taking a further step towards making major Scotland international football matches available free-to-air, which would allow the whole country to get behind our national teams in important qualifying fixtures.

“Scots celebrated as our men’s national team charged their way on scintillating form into this year’s Euro Championships, and we’ll all be behind the women’s national team when their qualifiers get underway next month, but most Scots are blocked from watching the national team with the bulk of games shown on a pay-per-view basis.

"With so much at stake in qualifiers, our vision is for all fans to be able to watch their national teams as they battle to reach the world’s biggest competitions.

“With the full powers of independence, the Scottish Government would have the power to determine the list of events that should be available to broadcast free-to-air to reflect the interests of Scottish audiences, and enable broadcasters who have a public service remit to better meet these needs.

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“But broadcasting policy is currently reserved to the UK Government, and only Westminster can add these matches being included in the so-called ‘crown jewels’ of international sporting fixtures for free-to-air broadcast.

“With the UK Government refusing to act to resolve the situation for Scotland fans, the Scottish Government will launch a consultation on the issue to help progress the campaign to ensure Scotland international qualifying matches are on terrestrial TV.

“Further evaluation work will be taken forward to understand the implications such a decision would have for rights holders, including the SFA, before the Scottish Government’s case is brought forward to the UK Government.”

The SNP MP Gavin Newlands hailed the First Minister’s campaign as a “tremendous step” towards making Scotland games more accessible.

Newlands previously put forward an amendment to the UK Government’s Media Bill, which would have placed Scotland’s men’s matches on the list of sporting events guaranteed to receive free-to-air coverage.

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However, his amendment was voted down by MPs.

“I am delighted the Scottish Government is taking this tremendous step and carrying out serious work on something which every supporter in Scotland has a stake in,” said Newlands.

“The UK government has continuously stonewalled my questions on this issue by telling me sport is a devolved matter – despite broadcasting clearly being reserved to Westminster.

“I’ve been clear throughout my campaign that there are no easy or quick answers to ensuring free access while protecting incomes that help support footballs grassroots, but the Scottish Government’s action this weekend is an important one.

“And it stands in sharp contrast to the negativity and lack of interest previously shown by the UK government when they’ve been asked to step up to the plate.

“The whole country will all be able to enjoy Stevie Clarke and his players taking to the field at Euro 2024 this summer, with every game on free-to-air TV.

“However, I want to see that free access continue into the future, with the next generation of John McGinns and Erin Cuthberts able to watch their heroes regardless of their household income and be inspired to get their boots on and lead us to many more qualifications in the future.”