Scottish football to benefit from £5m shot in the arm for facilities

SCOTTISH football is set to receive a £5 million boost for facilities, provided the Scottish Government comes good on promises made to the SFA.

According to SFA president George Peat and chief executive Stewart Regan, discussions have been ongoing with the First Minister Alex Salmond and his sports minister Shona Robison to determine just how the money would be spent, and even before the recent snow and debilitating weather, it was decided that the provision of indoor training facilities would top the list, with the emphasis placed on ensuring a geographical spread. While the sum is a long way short of the 500m over ten years which was recommended in the high-profile Henry McLeish review of Scottish football, it would be a welcome shot in the arm at a time when the financial climate throughout Britain means non-essential investment is on the wane.

"There will be support but if anybody thought that the government was going to commit to spend 500m on football over ten years then I think they would have been laughed out of court," said Regan, "But what Henry has done is wave a flag and highlight an aspirational figure. He hasn't gone round and valued exactly how many facilities are needed and what the cost of each facility would be, he has just found a number that is a big headline number and he has woken a few people up to the fact that money is required. What is really encouraging is that the government has met with us and they have listened to what we want to do and they have said 'yeah, we will support you'. We haven't had final confirmation in detail but I'm very, very confident that there will be facilities coming through, and we will be able to do a lot of what we want to do in that regard as we go forward.

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"We have discussed numbers but at this stage I wouldn't want to say more than it will be a healthy seven figure sum. It will be substantial but we are still in discussions to finalise all of that. When the time is ready, getting access to that kind of funding would be great for the game, particularly the community game."

Peat said he had been staggered to learn in discussions with his Icelandic counterpart that despite having a population of just 320,000 Iceland could boast seven full-size, indoor training facilities. Scotland with its long football heritage and far greater population has only three and one of them is privately owned.

"When the previous government was in power and our bid for the European Championship fell down they said they would use that money to give us six centres. But as soon as the new government came in Gordon Smith and I met with Alex Salmond and asked if we could have the money now and he told us the money was never budgeted for."

Which means that with elections looming in the coming months, the priority is now getting the agreement in writing. But Regan remains confident."I am conscious that the proof of support for any strategy is in the eating or in this case when people see results. But indicatively there is going to be seven-figure worth of money invested in facilities."