Ladbrokes Championship players went back to school on Thursday to support an initiative that will see under 12s gain free entry to every second-tier match this weekend.
Children under the age of 12 will be permitted free admission to any of the five games in the Ladbrokes Championship on Saturday if they are accompanied by a paying adult, in a move backed by all 10 clubs.
St Mirren captain Stephen McGinn, Louis Longridge of Falkirk, Morton’s Thomas O’Ware, Callum Fordyce of Queen of the South, Brechin City’s James Dale and Livingston captain Craig Halkett joined pupils at Alexandra Parade Primary School in Glasgow to lend their support.
The deal coincides with the Ladbrokes Premiership winter break and is designed to encourage families to attend football matches across the country.
SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster said: “Football goes on even during the Ladbrokes Premiership winter break and I commend the Ladbrokes Championship clubs for coming up with this welcome initiative.
“Hopefully many supporters will take the chance to get out to a match, with free admission for under-12s making it more affordable for families to attend together.”
St Mirren’s Stephen McGinn said: “As a football player there is no better feeling than playing in front of big crowd. We feed off that atmosphere on a matchday and hopefully on Saturday we will see good turnouts across the country.”
Craig Halkett of Livingston said: “It’s a great initiative for the clubs to support as it provides the opportunity for fans who might not have considered watching football over the winter break to see some competitive action.”
Morton’s Thomas O’Ware added: “It’s important to highlight to fans that over the winter break there is still a lot of football happening across Scotland. This initiative places lower-league clubs in the limelight and hopefully through this we can attract new supporters of all ages to their local clubs, which can only be good for the health of Scottish football.”
Brechin’s James Dale said: “It would be fantastic to see families coming to the football for a day out and really enjoying the experience. The league has been really competitive this season and this weekend should produce a lot of entertainment and goals.”
Falkirk’s new signing Louis Longridge said: “This is another great way for clubs to engage with local supporters and promote football to a wider range of people. If we can tempt new people along for the day we can help encourage people to support their local team and celebrate lower-league football.”
Callum Fordyce of Queen of the South said: “This is a chance for the Championship to shine in the spotlight and hopefully allowing under 12s in for free this weekend will encourage more families to get along to a game.”
This weekend’s matches are Brechin versus Livingston, Dumbarton against St Mirren, Dunfermline versus Dundee United, Morton against Falkirk, while Inverness take on Queen of the South.
A number of clubs in Ladbrokes Leagues 1 and 2 are also supporting the initiative, including Raith Rovers, who host Ayr United in a top-of-the-table clash and Forfar Athletic, who face Albion Rovers at Station Park. Berwick Rangers, who play Annan Athletic at Shielfield, offer free entry to U16s at every home game.