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UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

As I expressed when I appeared before the committee a number of weeks ago, assuming that the bill is approved by Parliament, the Scottish Government intends to learn from its successful delivery and operation and to consider how a framework bill on major events might work in future. Considerations on ticket touting will undoubtedly be part of that process.

Our proposals to ban touting of championship tickets have been broadly supported, including by football fans. The Association of Tartan Army Clubs wrote to the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee in October to convey its firm support for such measures. Of course, it is not my intention to criminalise charity auctions of tickets, and I have committed to lodge an amendment at stage 2 to make it clear that such auctions will be permitted. However, any form of charity sale, auction or promotional giveaway of a Euro 2020 ticket should be discussed with UEFA to ensure that the ultimate holder of the ticket is not at risk of being refused entry to the stadium as a consequence of breaching UEFA’s terms and conditions of sale. The Scottish Government is working to raise awareness of the new offence so that fans will understand how it works and feel able to report touting activity to Police Scotland and enforcement officers.

Finally, it is important that we undertake further engagement to raise awareness of the other provisions in the bill, as we are doing for those on ticket touting. Prior to the bill’s introduction, the Scottish Government carried out targeted engagement with street traders and other businesses that might be affected, as it is essential that they understand what is being proposed and have an opportunity to provide their views. Since the bill was introduced, further engagement has taken place to help us to understand the views of other groups. Importantly, that has included discussions with the Association of Tartan Army Clubs, Supporters Direct Scotland and the Scottish Football Supporters Association, as we wanted to hear from football fans as widely as we could on relevant matters. Further engagement with residents around Hampden park is planned for later this month on the preparations for the event, not just the possible implications of the bill. The Scottish Government, together with Glasgow City Council and other partners, intends to continue to publicise the restrictions on advertising, street trading and ticket touting in the run-up to the championship, to raise awareness among businesses and the public.

I hope that members will appreciate that, despite the expedited timetable for this bill, a good deal of consideration and due care has gone into its drafting. The proposals on ticket touting have been broadly supported, and those on street trading and advertising have been welcomed in the stage 1 report on the bill. I view parliamentary scrutiny as a vital way to improve the bill and have responded positively to the majority of the committee’s recommendations on areas for possible amendment.

I look forward to engaging with members in a productive exchange of views today and, subject to parliamentary approval, taking forward improvements to the bill at stage 2. It is an exciting opportunity for Glasgow to be one of the 12 host cities for the championship, with huge benefits for the local economy, Scotland’s economy and our reputation as an excellent nation to host world-class sporting events. With regard to that opportunity, the aspiration to deliver the tournament well and the things that we need to undertake to do that, I move the motion.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill.