Twenty youth football clubs suspended over unchecked coaches

Image copyright Getty Images

Twenty youth football clubs from across Scotland have been suspended from their leagues due to coaches not having full background checks.

It follows news that hundreds of youth coaches and officials have been debarred for failing to complete regulatory checks.

David Little, head of the Scottish Youth Football Association, said a backlog of vetting had been completed.

But he told MSPs that 488 people had been automatically debarred.

This was because they had not submitted an application to the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme.

The suspended coaches and officials would previously only have had access to children under supervision from PVG-approved officials, Mr Little told members of the Scottish Parliament's and Sport Committee.

'Overall governance'

There are about 15,000 volunteer coaches and officials who help run 39 SYFA leagues and coach 60,000 young players.

Tam Baillie, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that a lack of funding and engagement from the Scottish Football Association was contributing to the problem.

He said: "What we've got is an organisation which is effectively run on a shoestring, trying to cope with an enormous number of PVG checks.

Image caption Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie, called on greater engagement from the SFA

"I understand that they're now in discussion with Disclosure Scotland and I welcome those moves, but you need to take a step back here in terms of overall governance of our game and question why the SYFA have got so few resources to administer what is an important part of [football].

"The PVG checks are only as good as the information that is fed into them. There are key things about the culture and the approach that we take to our children and young people. I've been quite heavily involved with the SFA and professional football clubs and I've found that wanting, to be honest.

"The higher up the levels that you go in football, the more money is the driving force and, in my experience, that's at the expense of the best interests of children and young people."

'Dealt with'

The SYFA set a deadline of 28 February to clear a backlog of about 950 applications. David Little told MSPs that a further 1,170 were now being processed after an influx in applications for next season.

He added: "The backlog that existed has now been cleared. That process has now been completed and people who were not compliant have been dealt with.

"As of today, with the new members coming in in February, there's 1,170 new members who have joined the SYFA."

Asked by committee member Clare Haughey how many people had been placed on an automatic suspension for not submitting a PVG application, Mr Little said: "In respect of the backlog, 488.

"They are precautionary suspended, that means they are completely debarred from participation in any football under the jurisdiction of the SYFA."

When asked how long they were coaching in the SYFA before they were suspended, Mr Little said: "That would vary from official to official. They would have had access (to children) only via supervision."

Image copyright Getty Images

The Holyrood session on child protection in sport follows allegations of historical abuse in football. Police Scotland is investigating and the SFA has set up an independent review.

Last month, Disclosure Scotland, which runs the PVG scheme, told MSPs the SYFA turned down an offer of help to clear the backlog of checks.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan told the committee his organisation had also offered to help.

He said: "Back in February 2015, we offered support on child protection matters to the SYFA which was rejected at the time in favour of further financial support."

Mr Little said: "I think at this particular stage we're trying to get the ability to bring more volunteers in to do more of the work (process applications).

"It would certainly assist if we had the ability to increase staff. The help that was on offer was in respect of the checking of the forms at meetings.

"With all due respect, that wasn't the assistance we required at that particular time. We've since had meetings with Disclosure Scotland where we've spoken about training and process."

BBC

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

 
Zanobya Magazine