Concern about early match day drinking in Dingwall

Ross County players celebrating goal Ross County have had several early kick-offs in their debut season in the SPL

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Licensing officials have expressed concern about allowing pubs in Dingwall to open at 10:00 when Ross County have home matches with an early kick off.

Council officers have raised the issue in a report to Highland Licensing Board in response to an increase in the number of 12:45 kick-offs.

Officials said allowing more pubs to serve alcohol earlier than they can at the moment could be an issue.

They said this was because County's ground was close to the town centre.

Highland Council officers said early kick-offs at County's local rivals Inverness Caledonian Thistle were less of a concern because that club has an out-of-town stadium.

The report to next week's board meeting said bars in County and Caley Thistle's stadiums were well managed.

The Mallard, a pub at Dingwall railway station, can open at 10:00 using what is known as "grandfather rights". Under a 1976 law the pub is allowed to cater for railway passengers.

The report said police have been impressed with The Mallard's handling of this right.

However, licensing board members have been asked to note concerns about allowing more pubs to open early.

The report said that at Ross County's game against Aberdeen on 3 November last year, 30 people were refused entry because they were drunk.

Three people were ejected from the ground because they were affected by alcohol and there were three arrests related to drinking.

"Large quantities" of fans arriving in Celtic supporters' buses for a match in Dingwall on 18 August were also said to have been drunk before they headed into the town centre to find pubs opening at 11:00, the report said.

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