Football: Scots join forces on ground safety

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A partnership which will support the development of football facilities in Scotland has been formed between the Scottish Sports Council and the Football Trust.

The alliance, which was unveiled yesterday at Hampden Park, will have a crucial role to play in completing the recommendations of the Taylor Report on improving safety at grounds, and will also consider awards from the Lottery Sports Fund and the Trust finances for work at the grounds of Scottish League clubs.

But even the minnows of Scottish football outside the four divisions will benefit with non-League teams eligible to apply for funding for essential spectator safety works.

Allan Alstead, the chief executive of the Scottish Sports Council, revealed that about pounds 9m would be released over the next four years for that safety work to be done.

However, he warned clubs not to let their enthusiasm for upgrading grounds run away with them: "We don't have a bottomless pit of money. Applications will have to be tempered with realism," he said.

Alstead was "delighted" to announce "this unique partnership. Money from the Lottery Sports Fund will allow essential safety work at Scottish clubs at all levels to be continued. We do not have a specific sum of money set aside for this initiative but we hope that sufficient funds [pounds 9m] would be forthcoming to make a material difference to ensuring that the outstanding Taylor work is completed."

Community football projects will continue to follow the Lottery Sports Fund's existing application process.

Richard Faulkner, the deputy chairman of the Football Trust, said: "Today's announcement is a tremendous boost for Scottish football and a further vote of confidence in the Trust as the only national body with the remit to help the game at all levels and in all parts of the UK.

"The Trust has a proud record going back over 20 years of helping the game in Scotland. This agreement means we can continue to do so for many years to come."

The Scottish League president, Doug Smith, added to the mood of celebration. "I am delighted that the Scottish Sports Council and the Football Trust have joined together," he said, "and I hope this partnership will benefit Scottish football."