ALBA have introduced legislation which would ensure Scotland football games are protected on free-to-air television.

MP Kenny MacAskill brought forward the bill in the Commons on Tuesday as he insisted "the poll tax on Scots watching national football games” must be brought to an end.

Scottish fans are able to watch the men’s national team on free-to-air television if they are involved in the European or World Cup finals, as is the case this coming June.

But Scots are currently being denied free access to qualifying games for these tournaments as streaming service Viaplay has exclusive rights to show Scotland men’s matches until 2028.

READ MORE: Six Nations paywall threat sparks calls for broadcast powers in Scotland

Many Scotland women’s football games are shown on BBC Alba but MacAskill pointed out the channel has “neither the resource or reach” of the “bigger” channels and on occasions games are shown at the same time as England women’s games on ITV.

In England, men’s qualifying games have been free-to-air on ITV or Channel 4 since 2018. In Wales where rights to the national team's qualifying fixtures were also sold to Viaplay in 2022, access was available free to air on S4C.  

In introducing his bill, MacAskill accused UK broadcasters of being all about “Team England”. 

The National: Kenny MacAskill

He told the chamber: “The Euro finals, as with the World Cup finals, are available on free to view channels, that’s specified by law.

“But Scotland qualifying matches are not protected, they have only been available through Viaplay and at a cost of £180 per annum. For many in these tough financial times, that’s a cost they cannot afford.

“It’s a poll tax on Scots watching their national team.

“Hence the qualifying games, many of which were enthralling with wins at home against Spain and away against Norway, were not available to view for many other than those fortunate enough to go to the match itself or able to pay for Viaplay.

“That is as unfair and unjust as a referring error or VAR review which punishes your team. It has meant that Scots fans have missed out on the well-earned success of their team.

“UK broadcasters are showing themselves not as UK television outlets, but as Team England only.”

READ MORE: Angus Robertson: Why aren't Scotland football games free-to-air?

Scotland qualifying matches are not currently in the Group A list of sporting events in the UK that are restricted to free-to-air channels and are instead in Group B, which means they can be sold to a subscription service providing highlights are shown on free-to-air channels.

MacAskill’s bill aims to rectify this expanding the list of sporting events that must be free-to-air to include all qualifying matches played by the Scotland men’s and women’s national teams in the World Cup and the Euros.

Last month MPs were given the opportunity to protect Scotland football games and the Six Nations on free-to-air TV through an amendment to the Media Bill but this was voted down with four Scottish Tory MPs voting against it.

Gavin Newlands, who put forward the amendment, told The National he had concerns about how the Six Nations moving behind a paywall – which could happen in a couple of years – would affects participation in grassroots rugby.

MacAskill went on in his speech to highlight how even Scotland’s friendly fixtures ahead of the Euros would also be behind a paywall on Viaplay.

Meanwhile, Scottish age-grade fixtures are only shown on the SFA website while ITV have the rights to England Under-21 games.

He added: “It’s not just the men’s team but across gender and ages where Scots are being deprived of the right to watch their national team.

“Why can BBC, Channel 4 and ITV all have budgets to pay for England games but not Scottish ones?

“That’s why this bill is necessary. It must be mandatory that those games should be available. Scots fans have a right to see their team and to expect no less from their broadcasters.”

The Broadcasting (Listed Sporting Events) (Scotland) Bill has received cross-party support with signatories including LibDem Jamie Stone, the SNP’s Martyn Day, Douglas Chapman and Carol Monaghan, and Independent Angus MacNeil.

It has been scheduled for a second reading on June 21.