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Scotland’s Sporting Future

Independent Working Group Reports On Creating Sporting Success.

Distributed on behalf of the Working Group for Scottish Sport

Steps to ensure Scotland is a sporting success - as an independent nation or as part of the UK – are set out in an report from a group chaired by former First Minister Henry McLeish. 

The independent Working Group on Scottish Sport has spent six months examining aspects of Scottish sport and physical activity. As well as steps for improvement, the 53 page report sets out how Scotland can become an Olympic nation in its own right following a vote for independence.

The report, ‘The continuing development of Scottish Sport – including the impact of Independence’, will available from

The group concluded that there is a well-established application process and no obvious barriers to Scotland participating in the Olympics or Para-Olympics. By putting athletes needs first there are opportunities to build on the support already in place for international athletes to develop a successful Team Scotland on the Olympic and Paralympic stage. 

Whilst there has been considerable investment into sport, the report highlights that this hasn’t resulted in more people being active. More effort is needed to make sure communities benefit from the substantial improvements in facilities and the school estate. The group also believed more should be done by local authorities and leisure trusts so that those in most need have affordable access and are not being priced out of facilities.

The reports also states that regardless of the outcome of the referendum:

  • Extra effort is required to ensure all groups, especially those in the most deprived areas, benefit from new and existing assets.
  • The current access to the school estate for community sport is unacceptable and must be remedied by local authorities or the Scottish Government.
  • Scotland’s over-complicated sports governance and funding structures need to be simplified.
  • The relationship between funding and growing participation needs to be far clearer.
  • The Scottish Government should move to consider future spending as a cost saving exercise against health and other budgets.
  • sportscotland needs to better understand the role and levels of coaching in Scotland.
  • Physical Education targets in schools need to be extended and inter school competitions encouraged

Mr McLeish said:

“Scotland can be a sporting success. You don’t need to be a large country to take on the world and we can do this as an independent nation or as part of the UK.”

“We found no obvious barriers to Team Scotland participating in the Olympics and Para-Olympics, as soon as Rio, if this meets the IOC timetable. There would be a need for Scottish bodies to step up to fully support Olympic and Para-Olympic teams, but they would require additional support and funding to ensure a smooth transition for athletes are able to compete for Scotland.

“As soon as we sat down, it became evident that the role of sport and physical activity are two sides of the same coin. This is a problem we face whatever the decision on September the 18th. Scotland is not alone with having too few people active.

“We must raise our ambitions and challenge levels of physical activity in Scotland. We must ensure that people are active from cradle to grave by working with schools and communities to do more with what we have and target resources in a more meaningful way.

“I would like to thank my colleagues on the working group for their insight and hard work and all those who responded to our questions or came to us to give evidence. It’s obvious many share our ambitions for Scotland’s future.”

Notes To Editors

Members of the working group were:

  • Henry McLeish: Chair
  • Caroline Baird, MBE: Retired international sprinter
  • Kim Atkinson: Director of Policy, Scottish Sports Association
  • Susan Egelstaff: Retired international badminton player
  • Nanette Mutrie: Chair of Physical Activity for Health, Edinburgh University
  • Stephen Morrow: Senior Lecturer in Sport, Stirling University
  • Sophy Green: CE of Instant Neighbour in Aberdeen and Chair of Social Enterprise Scotland (SENSCOT)
  • Tommy Boyle: Athletics coach and Programme Director, Positive Coaching Scotland

The Chair and members did not receive payment but did receive expenses. The Scottish Government has provided secretariat support to the group.

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