Stadium drinking threat to football pubs, says BBPA

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Call for parity: the BBPA fears pubs will suffer if football fans are allowed to drink in stadiums (image: wonker, Flickr)
Call for parity: the BBPA fears pubs will suffer if football fans are allowed to drink in stadiums (image: wonker, Flickr)

Related tags: Football

Match day pubs could be put at risk if the Government acts on calls from football supporters to allow stadium drinking, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said.

Fans have been prohibited from consuming alcohol within view of football pitches since 1985. Nine clubs have made fresh calls to pilot a scheme that would allow drinking at stadium seats under certain conditions.

However, the BBPA​ said it was concerned nearby pubs would experience a loss of trade if the ban were lifted.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "Visiting the great British pub is central to a great match-day experience and any decision on whether drinking should be allowed in football stands must involve discussions with local pubs, many of whom are the home for fans before and after the game.

"As a former Director of Leicester City Football Club, I can see a range of options, from clubs like Leicester who have very adequate hospitality areas and may not need to allow drinking in stands, to some clubs where parts of the ground might be suitable for drinking in it, but others stands are not. This is not one size fits all.

“Ultimately, Parliamentary approval will be required to permit beer to be enjoyed in the stands and then it will be considered by local authorities, the police and individual clubs. As the BBPA we have been clear that the viability of local pubs has to be part of this discussion too.”   

Pre-match appeal

For Philip Cutter, landlord at the Murderers pub in Norwich, a change would not make much difference because his locals are already allowed to drink within the stadium's concourse and executive boxes – so long as the curtains facing the pitch are drawn.

What could impact trade would be if stadiums introduced more pre-match entertainment, he said.

He said: “In Norwich, what tends to happen is people finish watching the 12.45pm kick-off games, finish their pint, and then walk down to the ground for 3pm.

“I remember as a kid being in the grounds by about 1pm because they had stuff going on, now they don't do that.

He explained: “As a pub that shows a lot of sport, you have to make it so that punters stay in your pub for longer. It's all about innovation and making sure customers come into your pub as opposed to going down to the football ground and drinking down there."

Football fans believe the restriction is unfair because rugby and cricket​ fans can drink in their seats.

Draconian restrictions

A spokesperson for the Football Supporters’ Federation said: “Football is the only sport that has such draconian restrictions on alcohol consumption. Fans of other sports are free to drink in the stands or on coaches whereas football fans are not – we want to see parity.

“The alcohol restrictions are a relic of a bygone era, there is absolutely no evidence or research to suggest that these laws have any bearing whatsoever on preventing or curtailing football related disorder in and around our stadiums.”

A Home Office spokesperson said it was satisfied with existing legislation.

Unique public order risks are posed by football​ and “many incidents of football-related disorder are spontaneous, involving offenders who have consumed alcohol, often to excess”, the Home Office added.

Related topics: Sport

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