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Nicola Sturgeon 'must give hope' to amateur football with restart date

Daily Record logoDaily Record 21/11/2020 Craig Paton & Tara Fitzpatrick

Amateur football clubs should be given “hope” with a restart date for players and clubs, says Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.

In areas of Scotland living under Level 2 restrictions or higher outdoor sports for those over the age of 18 are currently not allowed.

However, professional matches can still go ahead.

Leonard claims the current Scottish Government regulations will create a “two-tiered” footballing system.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard © Getty Images Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard

Current coronavirus levels mean that only adults in five local authority areas - Highland, Moray, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland - are able to play sport outside.

Leonard has previously called for the ban on amateur football to be scrapped but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the restrictions were "absolutely necessary to suppress the virus in high prevalence areas".

Labour are now pushing for a date to be announced for the return of the amateur ranks of the national game to "give hope" to players and teams.

Leonard said: "Tens of thousands of footballers are living with what seems like an indefinite ban on the sport they love.

"This blanket ban on competitive amateur football is doing serious harm to the grassroots of our national game by stopping mass adult participation in the sport.

a close up of a football field: Amateur football has been sidelined © Stoke Sentinel Amateur football has been sidelined

"The physical and mental benefits that these players routinely get from weekly matches is being lost."

In the wake of Scotland's national team qualifying for next year's European Championships, Mr Leonard said the Scottish Government should be promoting football.

He added: "Nicola Sturgeon must give hope to players and clubs at amateur level that they will soon be able to resume matches.

"The First Minister must engage with clubs and amateur leagues to agree a timetable for the safe return of matches."

Current restrictions, put in place under a five-level system, can change on a weekly basis during reviews by ministers, but Level 4 restrictions which came into force on Friday will last for at least three weeks, the First Minister has said.

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