Evening Telegraph (First Edition)

£90 Scotland top is own goal for national game

A SPECIAL childhood memory of mine is being given my first Scotland football top.

- Ross Ross Cunningham is a mental health and outdoors advocate and campaigner and former media & communicat­ions manager for St Johnstone FC.

I was 10. And with Euro 96 just days away, my parents surprised me with the full tartan Umbro-designed kit, including shorts and socks.

It’s 27 years ago now, but I remember it like it was yesterday. The pride I felt as I touched the crest, the sleeves, and the collar, not quite able to believe it was actually mine.

It was almost overwhelmi­ng to have the same shirt as the footballer­s I idolised, the ones in the posters on my wall.

I felt 10ft tall on the football pitch with friends as I pretended I was Colin Hendry playing in the European Championsh­ip Final.

Unfortunat­ely, Scotland didn’t make it past the group stages. But I proudly sat through all

270 of the minutes the side played that summer in my full kit, feeling like I was part of the team.

I think I also wore my football boots, as if I was anticipati­ng the call from Craig Brown to be brought on as a late sub.

It’s those memories that make this week’s decision to charge £70 for a child’s Scotland shirt and £90 for an adult’s so disappoint­ing.

The new shirt design marks the SFA’s 150th anniversar­y.

And when it was first revealed, the response from Scotland supporters was overwhelmi­ngly positive.

I can’t remember a time, aside, perhaps from 1996, when a new shirt was so universall­y

well received. But the price tag means many supporters, young and old, won’t be able to afford it.

We are living through a costof-living crisis.

Money is tight for everyone at the minute. And even if we weren’t, it’s still clearly too much for a Scotland football

top. It’s not the only financial burden being heaped on supporters.

Scotland fans wishing to watch the men’s side’s matches against Cyprus and Spain on TV next week will have to pay for a subscripti­on to a Scandinavi­an sport broadcaste­r to do so.

This is in addition to the other

sports channels which armchair football supporters may already be paying for to watch domestic Scottish matches.

The costs just keep spiralling. There has long been an argument that the Scotland men’s football matches should be broadcast on terrestria­l television.

England supporters have been able to watch their men’s national team on ITV in recent years.

And, for the next couple of years, at least their games will be on Channel 4.

Why shouldn’t Scotland fans have the same opportunit­y?

You just have to take a look at social media channels during the Six Nation matches to see how many of your friends and family are following the success of the Scotland men’s rugby side, because the games are broadcast on terrestria­l television.

It’s the same when Scottish athletes are taking part in Wimbledon or the Olympics.

It wouldn’t be the same if it was behind a paywall.

It’s time for a serious rethink about how much we are pricing people out of backing our national football team.

It’s a sport that brings so much joy, but recent decisions have left many supporters in despair.

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 ?? ?? SHAME GAME: Scotland football fans should not have to shell out £90 for a replica shirt.
SHAME GAME: Scotland football fans should not have to shell out £90 for a replica shirt.

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