MSPs have been criticised for fielding an all-male line up for a new Holyrood initiative aiming at improving access to Scottish football “for all”.

The proposed cross-party group on “The Future of Football in Scotland” includes the Scottish Women’s Football Association as one of its non-parliamentary members.

However all 13 of its founding MSPs are men: five SNP, four Tory, three Labour and a Green.

The main female presence on the group is an MSP’s assistant who will serve as “secretary”.

Women’s rights activists - already alarmed that Scotland has failed to make progress of female representation in politics in recent years - said the make-up demonstrated the still low-status of women’s sport.

Kirstein Rummery, a professor at Stirling University standing for the Women’s Equality Party, said: “This reflects the low number of women who are MSPs.

“But it also reflects the widespread but farcical idea that sport is not a a women’s issue. “

Women’s representation in Holyrood peaked in 2003 at just under 40 per cent but has since slipped back to just under 35 per cent at the last elections in 2016.

Holyrood’s standards committee is due to consider its application for registration on Thursday.

There are around 90 cross-party groups (CPGs) at the Scottish Parliament, bringing together MSPs, business, academics and civic society on a variety of topics from Cuba to crofting.

The proposed CPG on the future of football is being lead by Fulton MacGregor, the SNP MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston. Mr MacGregor did not respond to Herald requests for comment.

The application to register as a CPG says the aim is to “create a platform to drive forward improvements in the national game, from grassroots football to professional game”.

This will involve consideration of affordability, access for disabled people, better community engagement and “finding ways to improve the game for all - supporters, players and officials”.

In February, Nicola Sturgeon, who is patron of the women’s national football team, announced a funding boost for the Scottish squad to help it train full-time in the build-up to the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 finals in the Netherlands.

“I hope the achievements of this team will raise the profile of women’s football in Scotland and inspire many more women and girls to take up the sport and attend games,” she said.

Last month the SFA set up more centres for female football under the “Our Girls, Our Game” campaign aimed at getting more primary-age girls in to the sport to boost health and teamwork. There will also be family friend fans areas for girls to watch their heroes play England, Spain and Portugal at the finals.

There are only three other groups with single sex memberships, although none with the profile of one on football - the CPGs on dementia and visual impairment are all male, while the CPG on construction is all female.