THE UK Government rejected proposals to make Scotland’s international games free-to-air, an SNP MP has said.

It comes amid a lengthy campaign to let the Tartan Army watch their team play on free-to-view broadcast channels – like England and Wales games are.

Gavin Newlands (below), the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North and a regular campaigner on the issue met with Tory media minister John Whittingdale earlier in the week to put forward proposals.

The National:

The SNP said they wanted to “explore the possibility of placing Scotland national team games under listed events legislation”, meaning the broadcast rights to these events would be offered to the main free-to-air terrestrial broadcasters.

But the idea was rejected, and Newlands accused the UK Government of holding “Scottish football fans in contempt”.

It comes after the Tory government provoked backlash even from within its own party after launching a consultation on “draconian” new rules which would greatly restrict the freedoms of football fan buses.

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Newlands said: “In what is an incredibly important week for Scottish football the UK Government has shown they couldn't care less about our game and they hold Scottish football fans in contempt.

“Scotland supporters are being priced out of watching their national team whilst English and Welsh fans can watch their sides for free this weekend. I want to see a similar offer for Scotland fans, but it’s clear from my meeting with the Minister that the UK Government does not share that desire.”

On Saturday, Steve Clarke's (below) Scotland team will play Cyprus in their Euro qualifying group – which they are currently leading. Wales will play Latvia in their group on Monday, while England play Ukraine on Saturday.

The National: Scotland manager Steve Clarke at Hampden on Tuesday night

The England game will be shown for free on Channel 4, and the Welsh game also for free on S4C. But the Scotland game will only be shown on the subscription channel Viaplay Sports 1.

The situation was the same in March, when Scotland’s stunning 2-0 win against Spain was only shown on pay-to-view channels, while England and Wales games were free-to-air.

Newlands went on: “We are seeing one of the best Scotland sides in decades, with a game on Friday that could be the most important of Scotland’s qualifying campaign, and to inspire the next generation of talent we should not have to get past a paywall to see it.

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“For years my SNP colleagues and I have fought to ensure fans can cheer on the Scotland team on their free view TV channels and we are simply met with a shake of the head from the UK Government – it speaks volumes about their disinterest in the success of our team and the experience of our fans.

“Whether it’s by imposing draconian restrictions on travelling fans, or ensuring games remain behind extortionate paywalls, it’s crystal clear the UK Government are failing Scotland fans, proving beyond doubt that to ensure access for all, and to give our team the backing it deserves, we must have the full powers of independence.”

In April, Newlands met with representatives from BBC Scotland, BBC Alba, Sky, STV, Channel 4, Viaplay, the SFA, and the Scottish Football Supporters Association to look to address the issue of free-to-air Scotland games.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The Government is keen to ensure the biggest sporting events are made available to the public throughout the UK which is why we have the listed events regime. 

"Our objective for the regime is to ensure that, where reasonable, key sporting events of national interest are widely available and free-to-air where, whilst noting that sport rights holders use income from the sale of broadcast rights to invest in their sports at all levels.

"The Government believes the current list strikes an appropriate balance and therefore has no plans to amend the regime. As sports policy is devolved, it would be for the Scottish Government to consider in the first instance whether there is currently the right balance between Scottish rights holders’ ability to generate sufficient income and access for Scottish audiences to those sporting events."