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EDITIONS
Saturday, 30 November, 2002, 12:11 GMT
Sport fans make grassroots plea
Scotland coach Bertie Vogts and First Minister Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell has been promoting the Euro 2008 bid
People in Scotland would prefer government money spent on grassroots sport than plans to bring the European Football Championship to Scotland in 2008, a new survey has revealed.

The poll was commissioned as part of BBC Scotland's "Running on empty" programmes, which are examining Scottish attitudes to sport.

The study also found that 69% of people questioned thought that neither Rangers nor Celtic did enough to combat sectarianism and that 48% would not support a UK football team.

However, First Minister Jack McConnell stressed that more was being spent on school and youth sport than would be invested in a successful Euro 2008 bid.


We have a huge amount of money that is going to go straight into youth and school sports in Scotland over the next few years

First Minister Jack McConnell
The polling organisation System Three interviewed 900 people at the end of October for the survey.

Uefa is due to announces the successful bid for its Euro 2008 competition in less than two weeks' time.

More than two-thirds of those questioned (68%) thought the Scottish Executive should spend money on developing sport rather than the 70m that it is estimated will be needed to bring Euro 2008 to Scotland and Ireland.

Even among footballers, 62% preferred grassroots investment to the Euro 2008 bid.

Mr McConnell said that some of the money earmarked for Euro 2008 would be reallocated if the bid did not succeed.

Celtic and Rangers fans
Efforts to stem sectarianism were criticised
"But it is not an either/or situation," he told BBC Scotland.

"We have allocated even more money for school sports - some 87m over the next few years we will be getting spent on grassroots school and youth sports in Scotland."

He also pointed out that at least half the profits made by Euro 2008 would be allocated to youth football in Scotland.

"We have a huge amount of money that is going to go straight into youth and school sports in Scotland over the next few years and that will transform the facilities that are available," he said.

The survey also suggests 69% of Scots believe Celtic and Rangers do not do enough to deal with sectarianism among their fans.

And 37% said they would be glad if the Old Firm left Scottish football.

Combined side

Among those who play football the percentage rises to more than half.

More than nine out of ten respondents thought that schools should do more to promote physical activity and 74% claimed to have taken an active part in sport over the past year.

Just 41% said they would support a UK football team.

Opposition to the idea of a combined side was strongest among those who played football, with 63% saying they would not support it.

The survey also found:

  • 58% thought the Scottish Parliament had made no difference to the development of grassroots sport

  • 64% thought "definitely" or "probably" there should be a separate minister for sport in the Scottish Parliament.

  • If football was not the national sport, then 39% thought it should be rugby; 16% golf; 6% curling; 6% swimming and 5% athletics

  • When asked why Scottish football had declined 21% said that children were more interested in other things like computers, 19% blamed the increase in foreign players in Scotland, 10% said it was the lack of interest from the government.

  • 37% thought that, given the size of the Scottish population, teams and individuals perform worse than we should do.

The poll was conducted to coincide with a BBC Radio Scotland examination of the state of sport in Scotland.

A special series of programmes to be broadcast on St Andrew's Day will culminate in a live discussion, informed by the poll results.

Sports journalist Jim Traynor will host a live discussion with a panel of experts including the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Mike Watson, the chief executive of Sportscotland, Ian Robson and David Taylor, the chief executive of the Scottish Football Association.

See also:

11 Sep 02 | Scotland
16 Oct 02 | Scotland
10 May 02 | Scotland
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