Police chief blasts move to lift football’s 36-year ban on fans drinking alcohol in the stands after sports minister Tracey Crouch labelled the current rules ‘outdated’
- Tracey Crouch is leading the review to bring back drinking in football stands
- The Conservative MP says that the current system encourages binge-drinking
- At the moment, ‘we kettle people into drinking quickly at half-time’, says Crouch
- Crouch believes that this change could help secure the financial future of clubs
- Chief Constable Mark Roberts says alcohol would contribute to more disorder
Allowing fans to drink alcohol in the stands would be irresponsible and fuel disorder, says the UK’s football policing lead.
MP Tracey Crouch will recommend a pilot in the fourth tier and the National League as part of her fan-led review of football governance, due to be published next month.
Drinking in sight of the pitch has been banned in the top five tiers of the game since 1985, although it is still allowed at cricket, rugby, horseracing and darts.
But Chief Constable Mark Roberts says that adding alcohol would contribute to growing disorder in the sport and pointed to events at the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, where ticketless fans stormed gates and gained access.
‘Anyone who saw the crowds outside Wembley will know the role alcohol played,’ said Roberts. ‘I am incredulous that anyone would suggest adding more alcohol into the mix.’
Though drinking continues to be allowed at sports such as rugby and cricket, Crouch’s proposals will spark debate – particularly after the crowd trouble during the Euro 2020 final at Wembley this summer – but the MP believes the current rules encourage binge-drinking and are part of the problem.
‘Our view on alcohol and football is outdated,’ Crouch told the Times.
Tracey Crouch is driving for a pilot scheme which will allow drinking in football stands
Chief Constable Mark Roberts says that adding alcohol would contribute to growing disorder
Dulwich Hamlet allow drinking in the stands as they are part of the National League South
‘It’s not helped when you see scenes like we did at Wembley. But that’s why I would pilot it first.
Crouch added: ‘We kettle people into drinking quickly at half-time. And that is the unhealthy aspect of the football fan’s relationship with alcohol. They drink a lot in a short space of time. So my recommendation is to pilot this and not have to down a pint at half-time.’
Crouch was asked to conduct her review in April following the failed launch of the European Super League, looking at issues covering governance, ownership and the financial sustainability of clubs throughout the pyramid.
And Crouch explained that lifting the ban on alcohol could be key to helping secure the financial future of clubs lower down the leagues.
Drinking is permitted in non-league football below the National League Premier, with the loss of revenue potentially affecting clubs who earn promotion.
Crouch said lifting the ban on alcohol could be key to the financial future of clubs lower down
‘Take a club like Dulwich Hamlet, which is in National League South,’ Crouch said. ‘It’s revenue is generated through its refreshments.
‘If it gets promoted to the National League Premier, it effectively stops generating that revenue during a game. They said openly in evidence to us that they cannot afford to get promoted because of the rules around alcohol.
‘Lots of clubs generate a lot of their income through their bars and I think it’s time to look at this issue again. We do have this bizarre situation where you can go to Headingley and drink as a cricket fan, but go to Elland Road and you can’t drink as a football fan.’