Football clubs join politicians in call to end drinking ban at games


THE DEBATE surrounding the ban on selling alcohol at football games has taken a step forward after a survey revealed the majority of clubs support scrapping it.


A survey, carried out by the Scottish Conservatives revealed that 85% of the 26 Scottish clubs polled want to re-examine the issue or at least see a pilot scheme launched.


Eight top flight clubs responded positively, with only one ruling out the idea altogether.


WILLIAM HILL SCOTTISH CUP 3rd round replay, Bo'ness v Elgin.
Bo’ness United and Elgin City


The ban was brought into place in 1980 after a riot at the Scottish Cup final between the Old Firm sides Celtic and Rangers, however it ended at rugby stadia in 2007.


Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “Football has changed significantly over the decades, it’s now a more family friendly atmosphere, and the stadia are much safer.


“Scots are trusted to drink in football grounds at gigs and events but not after 3pm on a Saturday, and those same fans are trusted to drink at other sports, like rugby.


“Drinking at football works in other parts of the UK and across Europe.


“With that in mind, it’s time to stop ostracising the sport and those who attend matches, and bring it into line with other sports and events.”


Scottish Labour also support ending the ban and used Saturday’s game between St Mirren and Inverness to launch a campaign which they hope will see the ban scrapped.


Jim Murphy at Dynamic Earth
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy claims the drinking ban at football matches but not rugby games is rooted in class prejudice


The Scottish Labour leader, Jim Murphy, said selling alcohol at football games but not rugby matches is rooted in “class prejudice” and needs to end.


Murphy, a teetotal Celtic season ticket holder, said: ” Football fans are paying for the sins and crimes of Scottish football fans from 1980 in the cup final. When you can drink at football grounds in England and across the continent, you should stop discriminating against football fans [in Scotland].


“Why treat football fans different from rugby fans, and why treat Scottish football fans different from English football fans?


“There’s no logic to it, unless people genuinely believe that, genetically, Scottish football fans are uniquely incapable of enjoying a drink in moderation and behaving themselves.


He said he did not want fans to bring alcohol to games, but said the purchase of alcohol at football grounds should be phased in, starting “in a limited way” with pilots and plastic bottles.


A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The vast majority of football fans in Scotland are well behaved and a credit to their clubs, but the current policy on alcohol at football grounds was introduced for good reasons, and the view of the police is that it should remain in place.


“Groups offering support to victims of domestic violence also strongly support the policy remaining as it is, given the marked increase in domestic abuse incidents which has been recorded in relation to some football matches.


“Having stadiums as alcohol-free zones has helped Scottish football to become the family-friendly experience it is for so many people today, and it is important not to jeopardise or undermine that success story.”