Please see below for relevant communication updates on the work of the Scottish Governing Bodies CEO Forum.

Maggie Still, Chief Executive, Scottish Squash

Dear colleagues,

Thank you for your continued efforts during what is an exceptionally challenging time for everyone involved in the sporting sector.

From 2 November we will be moving to a revised approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection as set out in the published strategic framework document. Yesterday the First Minister published the protection levels that will apply in each local authority area in Scotland, alongside evidence and analysis that informs these decisions.

The Strategic Framework aims to tackle the virus with measures strong enough to work, but also proportionate to the scale of the problem in different parts of the country, and in a way that minimises as far as possible, the other social and economic challenges that the pandemic is causing. As part of these package of measures aiming to reduce the prevalence of the virus, a number of restrictions will continue to impact on the delivery of sport and physical activity.

I know that this will be frustrating to many of you and your members, but I wanted thank you for the various comments we have received on the draft strategic framework and to let you know that those concerns have been discussed and fully considered. While the restrictions around sport have not changed from those that were published in the draft document, the First Minister has said that we will keep that situation under review, because nobody wants to restrict anything without it being necessary, and that is particularly true of sporting activity. We will continue to review the situation and give updates as and when we are able to do so. Clubs will be vital as we strive to recover from the pandemic and it is important that we give them the opportunity to continue to deliver activity and support the communities they serve. Thank you for your continued patience and your support in providing clear guidance to your membership so activity can be undertaken in a safe manner. This support remains vital as we look to continue the progress made in recent months in relation to the safe return of sport at all levels.

I also wrote to you earlier this month to confirm that we were in discussion with the UK Government in relation to a financial package being developed to support those sporting organisations which are most affected by a delay of the return of spectators. These discussions are still ongoing and more information will be provided once we have clarity from the UK Government.

Joe FitzPatrick

Sporting Sector

9 October 2020

Dear all,

I know that this continues to be an enormously challenging time for the sporting sector and that the pandemic has put a real financial strain on many sporting organisations.

Last week I had a productive meeting with the UK Minister for Sport, Heritage and Tourism to discuss the financial package being developed by the UK Government to support those sporting organisations which are most affected by a delay of the return of spectators to stadia.

You will be aware that sportscotland has supported the sector during the pandemic by providing upfront annual investment to Scottish governing bodies of sport (SGBs) and local partners and has also created an additional £1.5 million fund. In addition, I know that there are further financial issues for those sporting organisations who rely on income from spectators and we expect that to be the focus of any further funding package.

We are still awaiting clarity on Barnett consequential funding to Scotland as a result of the UK Government scheme. However, in order that we will be in a position to move quickly once we receive further information from the UK Government, I’m asking sportscotland to collect any additional financial information to ensure any support we put in place is properly targeted. If you feel any support package would be applicable to your organisation, then please contact sportscotland to discuss further.

Thank you in advance for any information that you provide which will help us to design a package of support appropriate for Scottish sport.

Joe FitzPatrick

28 September 2020

As you’ll be aware, last week the First Minister announced further measures to ensure we continue to supress the virus.

I know you appreciate the importance of us taking the necessary actions to protect public health and save lives. The cost of the virus to families across Scotland who have lost loved ones is devastating.

I recognise this has been an enormously challenging time for the sporting sector and that the pandemic has put a real financial strain on many sporting organisations. I remain grateful for the efforts the sector has made, including the enormous amount of work that has gone into the safe return of people back to sport, where this has been possible.

Given the continuing impact on the sporting sector, I wanted to let you know that I’ve written to the UK Government to the UK Minister for Sport, Heritage and Tourism, seeking urgent discussions about a package of financial recovery for sport. While the details of any package are still to be determined, I will of course keep you updated as any discussions progress.

Finally, can I take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and to ask that you share my thanks and this letter with the wider sporting sector, including Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport.

Joe FitzPatrick

This week marks an important next step towards the return of sport in communities across the country with indoor sports courts and swimming pools now able to reopen in line with the latest Scottish Government public health guidance.

The Scottish Sports Governing Bodies Forum and Executive Group welcomes Monday’s communication from Stewart Harris, CEO, sportscotland announcing the release of a £1.5m COVID Support Fund to support Scotland’s sporting system (sportscotland set up £1.5m Covid support fund for governing bodies). This timely statement recognises that whilst progress has been made with the re-opening of sports facilities across Scotland, this does not mean a full restart of sport as we know it and that many sports, particularly those reliant on accessing indoor sports facilities for club training and competition, face a much slower return as Local Trusts and leisure operators take a cautious and phased approach to the re-opening of their facilities.

We want to see more progress made in line with the latest public health guidance at all levels of sport, to ensure that clubs and local communities have access to facilities. The SGB Forum continues working with partners across the sporting system including sportscotland, the Scottish Government and Local Authorities and Local Trusts to bring about the safe return of sport, and is committed to ensuring that all of Scotland’s sports club members, volunteers and communities can access critical and much loved sporting and physical activity opportunities as soon as possible.

However, whilst there is a clear desire from all partners to reopen facilities and get our sports into these facilities as quickly as is safely possible, the ongoing difficulties presented by COVID-19, including facility staff on furlough, training requirements and venue remodelling to comply with social distancing measures, means that it is unlikely that all venues will be able to reopen fully for some time to come.

In the meantime, as a sector, we need the support, understanding and backing of all our clubs and members now more than ever as we work to protect the rich sporting fabric of our nation and strive to bring sporting activity back to being at the heart of our Scottish communities once more. 

The Scottish Governing Bodies Forum

The announcement by the First Minister that indoor sport facilities and gyms can reopen from 31 August onwards, is the latest step forward in relation to the phased return of sport at all levels, as we continue to follow the Scottish Government’s route-map through and out of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Scottish Squash welcomes the announcement. In recent months a wide range of partners across the sporting system, including the Scottish Government, sportscotland, Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport (SGBs), local authorities and leisure trusts, the third sector, as well as the further and higher education sector have been working together to progress plans for the safe return of sport, in line with the latest public health guidance. The reopening of facilities, which will play a key role in Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic, will be widely welcomed by clubs, individuals and the wider public. However, it is important to recognise that several challenges including the current economic landscape still need to be overcome before the delivery of sport in local communities and at a club level will be considered in any way back towards anything like normal.

While the desire from all partners to reopen facilities is clear, the difficulties presented by COVID-19 means that it is unlikely that all venues will be able to do so on day one, or for some time to come. Reduced capacities due to the required physical distancing will have a direct impact on the operational capabilities of venue operators and the economic viability of some facilities. We understand this will be frustrating for many people but while we all continue to work towards our shared goals and objectives, the continued support, patience and understanding of everyone involved, is more important than before.

As a sector we are committed to working together to address the challenges that still lie ahead. We want to see more progress made in line with the latest public health guidance at all levels of sport, to ensure that clubs and local communities have access to facilities, and that will remain our number one priority. From Monday 31st August the Government confirm that the following will be allowed:

  • Indoor sports facilities: All indoor sports facilities will be able to re-open following appropriate guidance. Scottish Government has published general guidance  for these facilities, while sportscotland has updated its Getting your Facilities Fit for Sport guidance with further information for specific types of facilities.
  • Children under 12: Will be able to undertake both contact and non-contact sports activity in indoor facilities. Relevant SGBs will publish guidance for undertaking their sports activity.
  • Adults and young people aged 12 and over: Will only be able to participate in non-contact sports activity in indoor facilities. Relevant SGBs will publish guidance for undertaking their sports activity.

The Scottish Squash COVID-19 Working Group wish to highlight what this means for squash clubs, facilities, and players across Scotland:

  1. Currently we remain in Phase Three of the government route map and there will be no change to the squash specific guidance until Monday 31 August.
  1. The Scottish Squash COVID-19 Working Group have taken the guidance from Government as outlined above and have been preparing the general guidance for squash clubs, facilities and players.
  1. Government now require Scottish Squash to submit the guidance for approval i.e. demonstrating how squash will meet social distancing and hygiene standards and limit any potential for transmission of COVID-19.
  1. It is likely that this will initially involve:
    4.1. Solo squash and household squash for players aged 12 and over
    4.2. Regular unconditioned squash for under 12’s only
  1. Upon approval by Government, and as soon as possible prior to 31st August, Scottish Squash will share a comprehensive Return to Squash Guidance document.
  1. Scottish Squash will ask clubs to ‘sign up to’ and implement the guidance

A further Government review date is expected on 10 September which may indicate a further relaxation of restrictions and here it is our intention to drive for a full return to Squash. Therefore, the period from 31st August is an important review point for the sport. We recommend that you work through the guidance; use the period of restricted squash activity to test procedures and embed new protocols. Take time to ensure that our facilities, and also our bodies, are fit for a return to squash.

In terms of local restrictions, where a locality or region is subject to localised restrictions, not all of the changes above will apply. Details of local restrictions are available here. Public health and wellbeing remain the most pressing priority, we all have a responsibility to do what we can to continue to suppress the spread of the virus. Once again, thank you for your continued support and patience, and please stay safe and well.

Following a formal communication sent to the First Minister on the morning of 30th July 2020 from 32 individual Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport (SGB), the SGB CEO Forum welcomes the recognition by the First Minister of the requirement to move forward the re-opening of sports facilities.

As a sector, we are disappointed that the indicative timescale for a return to sport is not sooner. We have submitted evidence in mitigation of any risk to public health and ask for clarification as to what more compelling information is required to ensure our sports can return to activity and competition within the indicative dates given.

However, we will continue to work with The Scottish Government and sportscotland to understand the level of evidence we need to provide so all requirements for indoor sport to safely return in late August can be met. As ever, we will react positively to any encouragement from The Scottish Government to review the dates.

We are especially concerned for those SGBs which only have the small 2020 summer window to restart their sport and competitions. Without access to facilities – both indoor and outdoor, wet and dry – our member Clubs cannot function and cannot contribute effectively to the recovery that the whole of Scotland so desperately wants and needs.

As we are all aware the reality is that ‘sport-in-Scotland’ is more than just ‘sport’. This has been clearly demonstrated through the national focus on maintaining daily physical activity throughout lockdown and effectively contributes to the social fabric of our local communities as a whole through (although not exclusively):

  • The health and wellbeing of the Scottish Nation;
  • Equality and inclusion;
  • Contributing to effective learners;
  • Mental health and wellbeing;
  • Tackling obesity;
  • Social inclusion; and
  • Women and Girls in Sport.

With confirmation that other public spaces and venues in Scotland are now reopening and in recognition of the immense challenges facing the restart of the Scottish sporting sector, the SGB CEO Forum wish to work quickly with Scottish Government, sportscotland and facility operators to establish a clear strategy to resume sport, for our members, clubs and communities.

Scottish Squash fully supports the collective drive of Scottish Governing Bodies to reopen as many sport facilities in Scotland as quickly and safely as possible.