Scottish Curling warn that ice Rinks being frozen out as they hit desperate financial situation

A sport invented in Scotland is under threat with a major loss of income due to coronavirus restrictions.

By Caitlyn Dewar
Thursday, 19th November 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 19th November 2020, 5:51 pm
European Gold Medal winner and Olympic hopeful Bruce Mouat, from Edinburgh, is among those who share concerns that financial support from the Scottish Government needs to be increased and made much easier to access.
European Gold Medal winner and Olympic hopeful Bruce Mouat, from Edinburgh, is among those who share concerns that financial support from the Scottish Government needs to be increased and made much easier to access.

Curling attracts around 4000 new school pupils and a further 3000 others to try the sport each year with around 11,000 regular curlers, but the closing of rinks has made it particularly difficult for rinks to survive in these trying times.

The biggest names in Scottish Curling are lending their voices to a campaign, highlighting the desperate financial situation Ice Rinks throughout the country face.

European Gold Medal winner and Olympic hopeful Bruce Mouat, from Edinburgh who has grown up with Murrayfield Ice Rink, is among those who share concerns that financial support from the Scottish Government needs to be increased and made much easier to access.

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He said: “It’s had a major impact on all communities across the country but the curling community is

Particularly affected both socially and financially.

“Across the whole of Scotland, the loss of income has been around £9 million which is extremely tough.

“With lockdown now a lot of young people who used to curl are finding other hobbies that are easier to come across and it’s a real shame that ice rinks can’t stay open so we can encourage participation which isn’t just great for physical health, but mental health as well. It’s a heavy loss for both sides.

“I understand that it's tough to open up at these times and we want to squash this pandemic but in curling you don't have to have contact with people, it's indoors, you can socially distance and there measures are in place to protect people. It doesn't involve heavy breathing so you can wear a mask comfortably with ease.”

Without a ramp up in provision, many rinks face the realistic prospect of permanent closure; with hundreds of young curlers left with nowhere to realise their potential, and scores of adults - some elderly and vulnerable - with no social interaction.

Rinks contribute almost £9 million to the Scottish Economy, with this season’s turnover down a massive 50 per cent.

Michael Wood, a director of Murrayfield Curling Rink says: “While we very much appreciate the support received back in April in the leisure industry grant, and subsequently from the furlough scheme, our financial position is more than challenging.

“The government needs to understand that the high energy costs of thousands of pounds a week are incurred not only when the curlers are playing but also for weeks when ice is being prepared for play.

“We cannot run a stop/start process or create ice at the flick of a switch. Access to hardship funds providing little more than £1000 a month just isn’t enough to justify keeping the plant switched on.

“Unless we can have real confidence of being given a decent run at curling for at least a couple of months in the New Year, or significant support to stay ready to restart, it is more than probable that curling rinks will not be able reopen this season.”

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