Calls to lift ban on alcohol at Scottish football matches

man drinking pint Fans in Scotland can only buy alcohol in hospitality or corporate areas

Fresh calls have been made for the ban on the sale of alcohol at Scottish football matches to be lifted.

Strict controls were introduced in 1980 after violent clashes during the Scottish Cup final at Hampden.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has said the club would like to be able to sell alcohol to fans in a controlled environment.

Start Quote

I think responsible drinking is perfectly possible at football stadiums”

End Quote Archie Macpherson Broadcaster

However, supporters of the ban say a reintroduction would create problems for police and stewards.

The Scottish government said the issue of alcohol at games was one of a range of things it may consider as part of wider work - with the police and football authorities - to explore how to improve the sporting experience for fans.

The general sale of alcohol was banned at stadiums in the aftermath of the 1980 Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Rangers, which saw rival fans battling on the field and police on horseback attempting to defuse the trouble.

It was largely attributed to the volume of alcohol consumed by spectators.

Broadcaster Archie Macpherson, who commentated on the match, told BBC Scotland he thought it was time to bring back alcohol.

He said: "I think we have matured greatly since those days.

"That was a stunning scene. It was a seminal moment and nobody complained about the new laws that came in after that because things were so bad.

"But I think it went too far. If you add all the legislation together about attending a football match, including the recent anti-sectarian ones, I think football fans are being treated like cattle."

The commentator added: "I think responsible drinking is perfectly possible at football stadiums. People have become much more responsible. Stadia are much better equipped to deal with these things. I think attitudes have changed."

'Bevvy' call

However, the former head of the Scottish Police Federation, Les Gray, said the idea of having alcohol on general sale in stadiums "beggars belief".

Speaking on BBC Scotland's Call Kaye programme, he said: "I am one of the old guys who was actually around in 1980 when the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act was introduced to football.

"Everybody just keeps blaming this one game but it was a whole host of events that brought about that ban.

"We used to stand at the football and get pelted with cans and bottles, which weren't full of their original content, and it was an absolute nightmare."

Hampden Stadium Legislation banning the general sale of alcohol at football matches was introduced in 1980

Mr Gray said the controls on the sale of alcohol during games had helped improve the standard at Scottish football "beyond recognition".

The ban on alcohol does not apply for events such as concerts when they are held at football grounds. American football, rugby league matches and rugby union club matches are also exempt from controls.

In 2007 the Scottish government lifted the ban for international rugby matches at Murrayfield Stadium, allowing fans to drink alcohol while watching games.

Mr Gray said: "The atmosphere and the attitude at rugby and ice-hockey are completely different to the football atmosphere."

He said talk of "bringing back the bevvy" was an example of football fans' attitudes to alcohol. "Some people just can't get enough," he added.

In Scotland, alcohol can only be sold to fans in hospitality and corporate areas during football matches.

In England, football fans can buy a drink on the concourses at designated times during and after games, but are not allowed to take alcohol back to their seats.

'Enjoyable environment'

Dev McDonald, from the Scottish football supporters' website Pie and Bovril, said he would like to see a similar model introduced north of the border.

"We are talking about controlled, responsible drinking," he said.

"People who watch football come from every spectrum of society, and they are no different to the people who go and support rugby or ice hockey. You can't treat them any different.

"It is demeaning to actually say that football fans can't be trusted to have a drink."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We are committed to ensuring that football fans can enjoy our national sport in a safe, enjoyable environment.

"Decisions are informed by advice from the police, and we are actively working with football authorities, the police and fans' representatives to explore how we can both improve safety and the enjoyment of sporting experience for fans."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    You couldn't buy drink in grounds in 1980, those 'fans' took their own.

    I fail to see why football clubs should be promoting this, they should be promoting health and leaving the sale of booze to pubs and offy's

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I'd love the option of being able to have a beer at the game if I fancied one.
    I attended a Sheffield Wednesday game earlier this season and very much enjoyed a half time pint and as far as I could see there was nobody stotting around drunk and being a pest or indeed a danger.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Fans are there to watch a game and not drink alcohol!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I like a beer before the football with friends, and maybe some after. Do we really need beer in the 90 minutes too?

    I honestly dont think so. This is a terrible idea. It wont be long and we'll be calling for a ban again.

    Footballs done well without it. Lets leave it that way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Dumbest idea in a generation. All this so club shareholders can rip fans off even more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Society is different now than it was in he 80s.

    Is there really going to be trouble at a Celtic vs Ross County game?

    People already turn up to games drunk.

    You only have to look to the German football model to see how things should be run.

    This should be done before other leagues implement the same, leaving Scottish football well behind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Crimes use to go up when the Old Firm played. So called 'men' (use term very loosely) go home drunk and start on their wives. The amount of trouble drink causes after games is unreal. Now you want fans to drink DURING matches. Alcohol is the last thing those light weights need. Maybe if they can learn to drink like adults then we can reconsider it. Losers ruin it for the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Forget the booze. Hand out knives, close the doors behind them, leave them for an afternoon, clear up the mess after, wait a week, check the deficit. Start over again. Priceless…

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I don't understand the english rule.
    It says, It's ok to drink alcohol in a 15 minute interval but not over the space of 90 minutes.
    It's basically saying you can buy a drink but you have to tank it.
    If you were allowed it in a plastic cup at your seat, to consume in the 45 minutes of each half, doesn't that present a better message?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    This would be a terrible mistake.
    Unfortunately, football attracts too many people who are incapable of behaving in a civilised manner, and the authorities should be doing all they can to prevent drunkenness at football matches, not encouraging it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The last thing Scotland needs is more alcohol consumption...

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I would welcome its return if managed properly. But the sale of alcohol is just a part of a small restoring the rights of football fans. It took an evening watching Glasgow Warriors - terracing, a beer whilst enjoying the game, friendly and helpful stewarding to highlight just how poor a deal football fans get in comparison.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Sounds like the clubs wanting more money rather than anything else.

    You can control it, and the vast majority of fans would behave. But once the first serious incident occurs, the ban will be slapped on again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I was at the Rangers end in the 1980 cup final and halfway down the terracing and well remember having to crouch down with my hands over my head as bottles and cans came flying over my head and hit the roof and came down nowhere near the track. I also remember people peeing in the cans and pouring them down the terracing at a "normal" match. Leave drink for the pub before and after the match.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Let's be honest, this isn't a great idea... it's already hard enough to convice yourself to take children to games without the added fuel of alcohol...

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Everyone has had to suffer because of the Rangers fans at Hampden 1980 . Time to reintroduce it at certain grounds . A safe enviroment has to be ensured for everyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Well, with the minimum pricing laws, no-one will be able to buy it anyway!


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