Trade braced for football stadia fallout

Comment By Gillian McKenzie
By Gillian McKenzie

THE debate surrounding the availability of alcohol in football stadia was back in the spotlight last week.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy kicked off the latest discussion, calling for an end to the restrictions which came into force in 1980 after trouble flared at an Old Firm game.

And it wasn’t long before the others put in their tuppence worth. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson reiterated calls she made back in 2013 for the current controls to be removed, and was backed by her boss David Cameron; while first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was ‘far from convinced’ there was a need for change.

Murphy and his party, meanwhile, were accused by some of bringing the issue to light again now in a bid to curry favour with voters ahead of May’s general election.

While politicians kick this particular political football around again, the trade is once more left playing a waiting game – and, as with the lowering of the drink drive limit, braced to deal would any fallout.

It remains to be seen where the debate goes from here. Were the restrictions lifted, it would fall to licensing boards to determine any licence application or variation. If boards did look favourably on such requests, what impact would it have on the trade?

Reigniting this debate might be timely for politicians; not so for licensees, many of whom are reeling from the impact of the lower drink drive limit, rising costs and the prospect of a 3% hike in the national minimum wage.

If alcohol is made more widely available in football stadia, it could be the final whistle for many.