Corruption money to bankroll Scottish sport fields

Alex Salmond announced the funding today. Picture: PA
Alex Salmond announced the funding today. Picture: PA
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A TOTAL of £2 million, recovered from a North Sea drilling company after admitting it had benefited from corrupt payments, is to be used to help bankroll a £3.15m fund to help install a network of synthetic football and rugby pitches across Scotland, it was revealed today.

Last November the Aberdeen-based Abbot Group agreed to pay £5.6 million under proceeds of crime legislation after becoming the first company in Scotland to enter into a civil settlement with the Crown Office under new corruption and bribery legislation.

First Minister Alex Salmond today announced that £2million of the £5.6 million recovered from the Abbot Group, from the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities programme, coupled with £1 million from sportscotland will be used to pay for full-sized 3G pitches for youth football and rugby development throughout the country.The installation of the synthetic grass pitches will focus on projects working with young people in areas that experience problems with anti-social behaviour and crime.

Speaking on a visit to the 3G pitch at the Banks o’ Dee in Aberdeen, which has benefitted from an earlier CashBack funding round, Mr Salmond said: “Our hugely successful CashBack for Communities programme takes money seized under proceeds of crime legislation and hands it on to worthwhile projects working with young people all over Scotland.

“Since its introduction, more than £50 million has been redistributed to good causes, with dozens of cutting-edge CashBack-funded sports facilities now open across Scotland, providing a tangible legacy that communities can use and enjoy. “

He continued: “Today’s announcement will see in excess of a further £3 million invested in a network of 3G pitches to help drive youth participation in two of our biggest sports – football and rugby –particularly in areas with issues with anti-social behaviour and crime. Clubs and local authorities across Scotland will now be able to apply for up to £300,000 to enable them to upgrade or install pitches that will help young people participate in sport all-year-round, keeping them out of trouble and helping our sporting bodies unearth the next generation of Scottish talent.”

Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, said: “Scotland’s sporting facilities are the best they have ever been and today’s announcement further underlines our collective commitment to continue to invest in this area.

“This new pitches fund has been established with the full involvement and support of the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Rugby Union, and highlights how all the organisations involved are working together for the mutual benefits of both sports.”

Mr Harris added: “Over the past twelve years, local authorities and the Scottish Government – through sportscotland – have invested more than £150 million pounds in football and rugby facilities, and this new dual-sport fund will add to the 500 synthetic pitches – more than 200 of which are high-quality 3G pitches – already in place across Scotland.”