THE news earlier this week that Tennis Scotland will be on the receiving end of a £12 million package from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is hugely significant.

As it stands, Scotland is massively under-resourced when it comes to indoor tennis facilities, which renders the sport almost unplayable for the majority of the population for a considerable chunk of the year.

This money will be used to build a number of new indoor facilities throughout Scotland, as well as developing coaches, working in schools and clubs and increasing tennis programmes around the country.

In announcing the funding increase in Stirling on Monday, LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd said this investment was to build on the success of Andy and Jamie Murray, as well as Gordon Reid, all of whom have won grand slam titles over the past decade.

Such a substantial sum of money is not to be sniffed at yet there is one obvious question that stands out; why on earth has it taken so long for Scotland to be given this money to improve tennis facilities?

It is Andy Murray in particular who has captured the imagination of the Scottish public so, bearing in mind that he played his first Wimbledon in 2005, a whopping 15 years ago, and won his first grand slam title almost eight years ago, it is somewhat insulting for anyone to suggest that this investment is to capitalise on his success.

If that was really the case, money would have been made available long, long before this, as his mother, Judy, has continued to push for throughout his career.

It is clear the LTA has not considered Scotland a priority because, considering the tens of millions it makes from Wimbledon each year, Scotland has had to wait until now to receive this level of support.

At the announcement earlier in the week, even Tennis Scotland’s chief executive, Blane Dodds, was quick to admit the investment was long overdue, and he is not wrong.

Murray has generated an interest in tennis across Scotland that 20 years ago, would have been unimaginable. In winning three grand slam titles and reaching a further six finals, as well as two Olympic gold medals, the 32-year-old turned tennis into a main-stream sport in this country.

So for this investment to be arriving only now seems nothing short of ridiculous. Even the most optimistic of observers would likely agree that Murray has, at best, only a few years of his career left, particularly in light of this week’s news that he may need another hip operation. And so there has been a decade of this country having a truly world-class player inspiring the next generation, yet extremely limited opportunities for that generation to pick up a racket themselves.

It remains to be seen how effective this investment is. Making the sport more accessible is, of course, a effective way of increasing participation numbers and in turn, makes uncovering talent significantly more likely.

However, there is also the risk that this investment is too little, too late. Wasting a decade of Murray’s career with little to show for it in terms of indoor courts is a monumental muck up. The time to really capitalise on Murray’s success would have been when he was just breaking into the elite, not as it comes to an end.

Better late than never, I suppose. But let’s just hope the sport doesn’t live to regret not doing more, sooner.


It seems like no more than a few months can pass without a new round of allegations emerging about Mo Farah.

Earlier this week, the BBC’s Panorama programme revealed further information about Farah and his former coach, Alberto Salazar, who is currently serving a suspension from the sport for doping violations.

During the show, presenter Mark Daly revealed he had uncovered documents which showed the four-time Olympic champion had repeatedly denied to US Anti-Doping investigators he had received injections of the controversial supplement L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon before then changing his story and admitting that, in fact, he did receive the injections.

There is no suggestion that Farah’s actions contravened the anti-doping code as L-carnitine is not a banned substance. But it does suggest that Salazar, and in turn Farah, were pushing the limits of what is legal to the absolute maximum.

As badly as these revelations may reflect on Farah, this story once again brings up the question of where the line is with regards to what’s permissible and what is not.

No one is saying that Farah has broken the rules, but there are many suggesting that he has contravened the spirit of sport.

This is an impossible conundrum. There is little doubt there is a huge grey area between what is legal and illegal but who is policing this grey area?

I am no fan great of Farah and think many of the suspicions around him are well justified. But the waters become so muddied when we begin to judge actions on what goes against the spirit of sport, in no small part due to the fact there is no clear answer to this.

Farah has not come out of this Panorama investigation well, nor have a number of UK Athletics’ officials. But I think we have to accept that Farah broke no rules in this instance and accept that as long as there is such a sizeable grey area when it comes to what is acceptable, controversies such as this will continue to arise.