Eve Muirhead has claimed the move came "out of the blue" ©Getty Images

Former world curling champion Eve Muirhead has criticised the decision by Scottish Curling to move its National Championships from Perth to Dumfries.

Writing a column in The Courier, the skip, who won silver at the last European Curling Championships in late 2019, has called the move "out of the blue".

Perth, located in the east and just north of the Scottish "central belt" where most of the population lives, is a hotbed for curling and home to the World Curling Federation (WCF) headquarters, while Muirhead herself was born in the city and her home club is nearby.

Dumfries is a town with plenty of curlers, however.

Scottish skip Sophie Jackson hails from Dumfries and it is the hometown of Muirhead's lead, Vicky Wright, and her former third Anna Sloan.

Since 2009, Perth has held the women's National Championships for all but four seasons and Muirhead says that there is no better ice in Scotland than her home city.

Dumfries last held the competition in 2019 for the first time, before it returned to Perth this year.

Muirhead said: "The quality of the ice at Perth and the ability of the people there to run a week-long tournament (and all the preparation that goes with it) are beyond doubt, basically, it's the best set-up in the country.

"Scottish Curling are taking a huge and unnecessary gamble to take it away and it's a gamble at arguably the worst possible time."

Eve Muirhead was crowned world champion at the 2013 World Championships in Riga in Latvia ©WCF
Eve Muirhead was crowned world champion at the 2013 World Championships in Riga in Latvia ©WCF

Due to the cancellation of the World Championships for both men and women this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, qualifying for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics now relies on a strong performance at the 2021 World Championships.

The 2020 World Championships were also due to count towards Olympic qualification before being cancelled.

Muirhead added: "Whoever wins [the National Championships] will have to finish in the top six at Worlds.

"So, you want the best team to become Scottish champions and you want the best conditions to get close to what can be expected at the Worlds a few weeks later.

"To put it bluntly, that cannot be guaranteed at Dumfries but it can at Perth.

"The lack of consultation has been worrying.

"If the right people had been spoken to - the athletes who will be taking part, high performance coaches and ice technicians, the decision would have been been different.

"Scottish Curling are taking a huge leap into the dark and have put a blindfold on for good measure."

Muirhead also compared moving the Championships to playing nine holes at a local golf course at The Open or The Masters.

Since 2009, when she first won the senior Scottish Curling Championships, Muirhead has won eight titles - more than any other woman in Scotland.