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 257.

    Fine, as long as those serving refuse anyone who shouldn't get another drink. If the folk selling the stuff sold it responsibly, we wouldn't have had the bother then, or now in pubs and clubs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    Why is it necessary to drink alcohol at a football match in the daytime? Or evening come to that! You've got 22 presumably fit and healthy guys running round the pitch NOT drinking alcohol - presumably not drinking much of the stuff anyway to stay in shape - so by does an onlooker need it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    Why was the ban implemented? Likely because of alcohol fuelled behaviour and public disorder. It is a shame that a few spoil it for the rest, but it is a fact. So when considering the extra revenue the alcohol might raise, offset that against the cost of more policing to tackle drink fuelled problems. If you want to make stadiums more family friendly, keep alcohol out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    Considering that football matches have many people all gathered together, is it really smart to allow people to get drunk and aggressive? Some people take football too seriously and there have already been worldwide cases of violence during matches with a result of people getting killed. No they should not lift the ban, use your brain please, you can get pissed afterwards if you wish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    It won't be a problem if Scotland gets independence; BPIFOS rules won't let Scotland produce or import alcohol. Or food, energy, and possibly air. In fact, if the daily headlines are to be believed- and UK's splendid press would never represent vested interest- Scotland won't be allowed any currency. £,€, tiddlywinks.
    So nobody will be buying alcohol or football tickets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    I care about my safety and the safety of others who attend games. If you feel that you cannot last 90 minutes withou consuming alcohol don,t go to the game!

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    @250 GJLDU83: "I cannot see any benefit in allowing alcohol to be sold at games"

    Did you ever consider that maybe individuals have the "right" to do so, and that this "right" should NOT be violated by the government, because "rights" are "unalienable" and absolutely priceless freedoms of action which must be protected and respected at all costs?

    No, you didn't consider that; you just don't care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    I cannot see any benefit in allowing alcohol to be sold at games. I remember being taken to games in the mid to late 70's and the alcohol fuelled carnage that occurred on a regular basis. If this proposal is an attempt to attract more people to games then they should look in to the cost of tickets. Plus a bit more respect for fans from police and stewards would not go amiss!

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    Ban alcohol at football matches?

    Tell me: By what right and by what standard can government do such a thing?

    Seriously, what LIMITS government power to "ban" things?

    Are you people so enamoured with tyranny that you're willing to accept that "anything goes"?

    How long until everything that brings joy in life is banned, and then life becomes universally miserable?

    Government MUST be limited.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    Football has shamed us all. Football has a proved track record of shamefull violence. Is it right to attack people because you are drunk? It is not a right to get tanked up and put others at risk. Lets remember the victims of football drink-fuelled violence and the mess they were in.If fans don't like the ban they should not have behaved that way. Personal responsibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    #235 well said outsidethebox you more than adequately make the case for not lifting the alcohol ban.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    The only thing that should be banned here is the initiation of physical violence against other individuals.

    By what right and by what standard does government ban alcohol at football matches?

    It has no right to do so, and there are no standards. There's no limit, other than massive public outrage, to what government could ban. It's just "anything goes", and that is inherently tyrannical.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    The same idiots who cause bother at matches just now are the same idiots who will cause even more trouble if this ban is lifted. Unfortunately this is a prime example of the actions of the minority spoiling things for the majority. All it takes is for one drink fuelled incident to spiral into a riot. Until all fans can act like adults and not drunken hooligans I say keep the ban.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    hm if you are tanked up before a game - you should not get in.....arrested is a better option....tired of being blighted with the alcohol badge - man up and have a pie

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    Ridiculous idea. A pint before and and after the game is fine but during will only lead to more trouble.

    No matter how many thousands can enjoy a drink responsibly, there will always be hundreds who cannot and all the negative press which already blights the game up here does not more fuel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    I remember esting a Saints Tigers rugby match sitting next to a Tigers fan we were both drinking pints- no problem but there again different mentality.
    Interestingly I wonder how long it will be before the anti government and its Thatchers fault rants begin

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    I too remember the days when fans drank at football matches: vomit, public urination and fights were the norm. Not everyone was to blame, but quite a lot of supporters seemed to think it was acceptable. As long as there are people stupid enough to make football and the team they support of prime importance in their lives, they are too stupid to be allowed to fuel the delusion with alcohol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Ok, so what is worse, having a couple of pints at the game, (the queues will make sure it is only a couple) or going to the pub before the game and getting tanked up because you can't get a drink at the game?

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.


  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Its football not rugby. Like all badly behaved children you have to sit on the naughty step. Once football, footballers and football fans have grown up then they'll be allowed to play with grown up toys. Its no point saying its a small minority it isn't, you simply cannot put fans together sober let alone with a gut full of beer, bad idea. Football is already embarrassing enough.


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