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8 March 2017, 18:10
Eighteen youth football clubs have been suspended from leagues around Scotland over a failure to complete comprehensive background checks on coaches and officials.
The Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA) confirmed 18 of its 3,500 clubs have been suspended the day after it was revealed 488 individuals have been debarred from youth football for not submitting an application to the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme.
It is thought the suspension of clubs will affect about 350 young players but many can join other teams.
There are about 15,000 volunteer coaches and officials who help run 39 SYFA leagues and coach 60,000 young players.
The SYFA set a deadline of February 28 to clear a backlog of about 950 PVG applications and has taken action against those who have not taken part.
SYFA chief executive David Little said: ''We said late last year that clubs which do not expedite these compulsory checks would lose their member status and that those volunteers without a PVG certificate would be placed under a precautionary suspension.
''It is encouraging that the overwhelming majority of clubs take these responsibilities extremely seriously but those that have not complied have now been suspended from all competitions.
''It is disappointing that we have been forced to suspend these 18 clubs but player safety is our number one priority and we were determined to ensure that a strong signal was sent out across the country that these standards are non-negotiable.
''A total of 488 volunteer officials who have not completed PVG checks within three months of joining a club have been placed under precautionary suspension until such time as their checks are complete.
''It is a key principle of SYFA membership that, until they have been cleared by the Disclosure Scotland process, volunteers joining clubs are only allowed to participate in activities under the direct supervision of a PVG-checked coach or official, of which there are more than 15,400 registered with the SYFA.''
Mr Little took part in a Scottish Parliament committee on child protection in sport on Tuesday, set up following allegations of historical abuse in football.
Police Scotland is investigating and the SFA has set up an independent review.