21st February 2015

Experts against alcohol sale at football stadiums

The SNP is today welcoming a joint letter published in yesterday’s The Herald from health experts, domestic violence awareness organisations and academics calling for the restrictions on the sale of alcohol at football matches to remain.

It comes as Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie and Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie also both outlined their opposition to Labour’s views.

Referring to meetings involving Labour leader Jim Murphy with football organisations, the letter, signed by eight professionals including Laura Tomson Co-Director of Zero Tolerance and Dr Peter Rice, the Chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, states:

“…there are important reasons to maintain the current arrangements for the control of alcohol availability at football matches. We are disappointed that there has been no discussion with or involvement of our organisations in the consultations taking place.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also said she is ”far from convinced” about alcohol sale being introduced to football stadiums, warning against “taking a step backwards”.

And this morning a growing cross party consensus that the ban should remain emerged as Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie and Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie both outlined their opposition to Labour’s plans.

Mr Rennie told Clyde 1 News: “Just at a time when Scotland has acknowledged, has admitted that we have a problem with drink, I don’t think we should really be encouraging more people to drink more often. So I’m cautious about this.”

Bob Doris MSP

Bob Doris MSP

Bob Doris MSP for Glasgow, who is also the Deputy Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, said:

“This letter in today’s Herald by eight experts is a very welcome contribution which brings some much needed sense and balance to the debate on Scotland’s relationship with alcohol and football. The support of other party leaders for the current policy is also very welcome, and shows there is a mounting cross-party consensus on the issue.

“I see no need or compelling reason for the sale of alcohol inside football grounds and – as a number of leading health experts, anti-domestic violence groups and academics have pointed to today – there are a great many dangers and drawbacks in the plan to lift the ban.

“Labour’s frenzied and increasingly desperate attempts to appeal to voters have led them to charge head first into policies that run the risk of being wholly irresponsible.

“Football fans’ culture in Scotland has made great progress and has come a long way since the dark days of the 1970s when fans openly drank on the terraces and mass rioted on the pitch at Hampden Park in 1980. It’s vital we don’t take steps that threaten the progress made and could lead us back to those dark days.”