Edinburgh football manager criticises Scottish government for not prioritising sport in lockdown exit roadmap

A manager of a semi-professional football club in Edinburgh has hit out at the government’s failure to prioritise the return of adult contact sports earlier during the easing of lockdown.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 12:30 pm

According to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, adult outdoor contact sports are signposted for a return on May 17.

But this comes several weeks after hairdressers and barbers are allowed to open on April 5, and a few weeks after bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen indoors at a reduced capacity.

This has led to Ryan Dinse, manager of Craigroyston Football Club, to hit out at the reopening process adopted by the government.

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The manager has said that he has been left confused as he is yet to see evidence that outdoor contact sports are a hotbed for transmissions.

He said: “This is really quite frustrating for everyone involved in sport below the professional level. And I fully understand there’s risks but last year we were allowed to open up when most of the indicators were higher than they are today and we have a vaccine.

“I’d like to see them apply some common sense and to understand what the lack of outdoor sports like football is doing to people's mental health.

“We followed strict protocols at training and games and provided safe environments for players. We jumped through hoops to meet their demands and we had no problems at all.

St Mark's Park, home of Craigroyston, and (inset) Craigie in action against Dunipace

“I just find it ridiculous that pubs and restaurants are to reopen before adults are allowed to play football in this country.”

Chief executive of the observatory for sport in Scotland David Ferguson added that he feels the Scottish government should have prioritised the reopening of outdoor contact sports earlier in the easing of lockdown process.

He said: “New Zealand, interestingly, made re-opening of community sport a priority in its emergence from lockdown and used sport as a tool to aid the physical and mental recovery from the pandemic. I would add that this started with restrictions to play within regions and I think we should follow that line, and not necessarily jump straight to nationwide competition.

“It would be helpful if there was the same understanding here that outdoor sport presents very little risk but provides a much higher level of reward in terms of people's physical and mental health.

“Many teams across Scotland abided by guidelines and spent a lot of time and resources on opening back up briefly last year when lockdown was eased. There is nothing to suggest that teams would not be up to the task of replicating this feat and helping people stay physically and mentally fit.”

When asked last week why the Scottish Government had not prioritised the reopening of adult outdoor contact sports, a spokesperson said: “We understand the important role football plays in Scottish life, particularly in improving physical and mental health.

“SPFL clubs were only able to resume activity after adopting enhanced measures to keep everyone safe, including mandatory weekly Covid PCR tests for all players and staff. We are keen to see amateur and semi-professional players return to the pitch once it is safe for them to do so, and will not keep restrictions in place for any longer than is absolutely necessary.”

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