Concerns are being raised that watching the men’s national football team is becoming increasingly inaccessible to Scottish fans after UEFA announced their matches will be shown on a paid subscription channel.
News of Premier Sports’ new deal means Scotland’s six matches in their 2022 UEFA Nations League campaign, starting with Scotland’s home game against Armenia on June 8, as well as the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, will serve.
Fans will need to shell out a minimum of £7.99 per month to sign up for the channel.
The contract, which was awarded through the UEFA National Association’s centralized media rights sales process, is expected to run until 2024. After that, Nordic broadcaster ViaPlay is expected to resume matches, starting with the 2024 UEFA Nations League campaign.
While Premier Sports has committed to showing 3 free-to-air matches over the next two years, there is a stark contrast to how easily English fans can watch their team as their matches are currently shown on ITV.
Fans took to Twitter to express their concern over the deal, with one saying: “That’s how the free market works in football. Scotland get England’s games for free, but we have to subscribe to a channel I would never otherwise watch to see our team. The result? I never watch international football except for the finals.
This is how the free market works in football. Scotland get England games for free but we have to subscribe to a channel I would never otherwise watch to see our own team. The result? I never watch international football except the finals. https://t.co/05BkZ3THyZ
— James Christie 🇺🇦 (@james_christie) May 20, 2022
Another said: “It is hugely disappointing that UK terrestrial channels are still willing to shell out big bucks for England games, but for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. International football matches should be free to watch – not hidden behind a paywall.
It is hugely disappointing that UK terrestrial channels are still willing to shell out big bucks for England matches, but for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. International football matches should be free to watch – not hidden behind a paywall. https://t.co/5x0JWpw6Y4
— Andrew McLean (@A_McLean99) May 20, 2022
One of those affected by the decision is SNP MP Gavin Newlands, who has written to UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries to use existing legislation to force the games to be streamed for free.
Speaking to The National, Newlands said: ‘I would complain about this in calmer economic times, but given the cost of living crisis we are going through, it is particularly serious. The fact that Scottish football fans are expected to pay to watch international matches while English fans can watch theirs for free is indefensible.
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“At the end of the day, when you have the UK made up of a country of 56 million people and three other much smaller nations, it’s clear that English football will always be more commercially viable for ITV and Channel 4. and would be extremely difficult for other nations to bid and win.
“However, I think BBC Scotland is not in the same position. They are a national broadcaster and there is a stronger argument that they should seek the rights for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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Newlands wrote to Dorries in April asking him to use the Broadcasting Act 1996 to make Scottish national team matches available free-to-air. He didn’t get an answer.
However, Newlands says he will raise the matter again with Dorries at Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Questions next week, but is “not going to hold [his] breath”.
He tweeted: “So @UEFA have awarded the TV rights for Scottish matches until the start of the new contract with Viaplay in 2024 to Premier Sports, which further integrates the unfair situation faced by Scottish, Welsh fans. and Northern Irish.
“Nadine still hasn’t answered my letter. I’m going hunting next week”
So @UEFA have awarded TV rights for Scottish matches until the start of the new contract with Viaplay in 2024 to Premier Sports, further reinforcing the unfair situation faced by Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish fans.
Nadine still hasn’t answered my letter. I’m going hunting next week https://t.co/tI3ILUF7qb
— MP Gavin Newlands (@GavNewlandsSNP) May 20, 2022
A BBC spokesperson said: “The market for live rights to the men’s international matches is competitive and it is up to the rights holders to select which broadcaster will show the matches. We will continue to provide live coverage of the matches. men’s matches on the radio and online.”
DCMS BBC has been contacted for comment.