On the eve of the men’s national team kicking off their first major tournament in more than 20 years, the head of the SFA has criticised the failure to re-open football pitches in Glasgow.

Ian Maxwell, chief executive of the SFA, said that pitches remaining closed is not something the SFA can “entertain” and called for action from Government to get more facilities open.

Football pitches across the city are among, around 60, community facilities that are on a list of not yet re-opening by Glasgow Life, the council owned organisation responsible for culture and sport in the city.

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Maxwell singled out the Barlia Complex in Castlemilk, an area he said has produced top talent over the years.

Glasgow Times:

Barlia is one of 11 football facilities across the city not yet scheduled to re-open.

Others include  pitches and facilities at Caldercuilt, Cathkin, Greenfields, Halgreen Avenue,  Mount Vernon, Nether Pollok, Penilee and Petershill.

The King George V playing fields and James Lyndsey Memorial Pitches are also on the list.

Several are listed as being earmarked for the People Make Glasgow Communities programme where Glasgow Life is looking to off load onto local groups or organisations.

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They are among the dozens of community facilities that the Glasgow Times Save Our Venues campaign is trying to protect for future generations.

Maxwell, the SFA chief, said that facilities at risk need to be safeguarded.

He said that the success of the team qualifying for this tournament “will run much deeper and endure longer than the results on the pitch".

He added: “A generation of young Scots can now aspire to emulate heroes in the national game.”

Glasgow Times:

However, with the gates to many pitches in Glasgow locked, Maxwell said it is a barrier to those dreams.

He said: “I am also acutely aware of the juxtaposition of welcoming UEFA EURO 2020 to Hampden Park whilst football pitches within a goalkeeper’s kick-out of the national stadium remain closed.

"I have alluded to the impact of COVID-19 across all aspects of life, not least the effort of national and local government in keeping the country safe.

None the less, the Scottish FA cannot in good conscience entertain the notion of football pitches not reopening.

“Not when some of those pitches, such as the Barlia Complex in Castlemilk, represent a beacon of hope for an entire community in an area that has a proud tradition of producing international players.”

He also raised the economic benefit football brings to the country.

Maxwell added: “And not when the social return on investment of the game in Scotland is conservatively estimated by UEFA to be more £1bn. 

“We have been in ongoing dialogue with Glasgow Life to find a sustainable solution to the economic challenge. But it requires a wider, longer-term and strategic discussion with Scottish Government, sportscotland and partners to safeguard football facilities at risk across the country. These pitches and playing areas support over 2500 football clubs and enable hundreds of thousands of people to be active and improve the health and wellbeing of the nation. I believe more can and should be done to preserve existing facilities in Scotland.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow Life, said: “We understand the strength of feeling there is about venues without reopening dates but no venues have been closed by Glasgow Life.

"Venues were closed as instructed by the Scottish Government in March 2020 as part of the lockdown prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

"Last month Glasgow City Council passed a motion that called for the reopening of all Glasgow Life venues when funds become available.  When any new funding is identified, we will discuss which venues will reopen with Glasgow City Council.  

"In the meantime the £100 million budget allocated to Glasgow Life this year by Glasgow City Council is being fully used on reopening more than 90 venues across the city.”