POLICE will enforce a booze blitz on supporters travelling to the Scottish Cup final with warnings that drunken fans risk forfeiting their ticket to Hampden.
Supporters face spot fines or could even be banned from the historic all-Edinburgh showdown if they are caught drinking on buses, trains or on the streets of Glasgow.
Fans will travel together on trains leaving from Edinburgh before being segregated at Glasgow Central Station and continue to different terminals close to the national stadium.
Excessive drinking tops the police list of concerns, with officers placed on train carriages and targeting supporters’ coaches in a bid to deter the potential for violence and antisocial behaviour.
Under police plans, public transport will be a “dry” domain for travelling fans, who have been warned against bringing any alcohol through to Glasgow.
Officers will be deployed in force at key flashpoints – such as train stations – with a separate, intelligence-led operation in action to monitor known hooligans who may try to exploit the final for violence.
Bill Skelly, Assistant Chief Constable at Lothian and Borders Police, said supporters should ensure they don’t curtail their enjoyment of the “biggest game in their club’s history” by celebrating too hard too early.
“People who have been drinking and who are drunk will not get into the stadium,” he said.
“This is the first time these two clubs have met in a cup final for many years and I’m sure someone who paid good money for a ticket and travelled to Glasgow wouldn’t want to be kept out of the stadium and miss the biggest day in their club’s history just because they had too many beers.”
ACC Skelly also moved to alert fans to the differences in drinking laws between Edinburgh and Glasgow, which has a zero-tolerance policy for on-street drinking.
“If they drink in public places in Glasgow, fans can get a fixed penalty notice, and if they don’t stop there’s the potential for them being arrested.
“The issue for us is to get people in and out to the game safely.
“The local community [at Hampden] could be [deluged] with thousands of people who might be urinating in closes or causing antisocial behaviour on the streets and that’s where we will clamp down on it.”
The police chief said most supporters were intent on enjoying the day but people “who believe they are coming to cause disturbances or cause trouble” will be dealt with “robustly”.
British Transport Police (BTP) will spearhead operations on the railway network, and Chief Superintendent Ellie Bird said officers would react firmly to antisocial behaviour.
“If we are travelling on the train and see people are carrying or drinking alcohol then under by-laws they are committing an offence. People who are drinking on carriages will spoil their own enjoyment.”
Asked why BTP felt it excessive to segregate rival fans on separate trains or carriages, she said: “There’s no reason to suggest that we need to segregate people going from Edinburgh through to Glasgow.
“If there was I would suggest those people shouldn’t be going to the football.
Despite mixed carriages on the way into Glasgow, on the onward leg Hearts fans will be ushered on to trains for Mount Florida, with Hibs supporters continuing to Kings Park.
Summing up the most troublesome aspect of the transportation exercise, Chief Supt Bird said: “Alcohol. The one thing that causes the greatest challenge is the influence of alcohol in antisocial behaviour.
“Alcohol-related antisocial behaviour doesn’t just cause a bad atmosphere, people get hurt, and that’s not something to do in a railway environment.”
After the match, with one half of Hampden remaining behind to celebrate a win, police believe a natural segregation will occur on the return leg to Edinburgh.
Last Thursday, ScotRail said that, for those returning to Edinburgh from Glasgow Queen Street, supporters of the winning team would be directed to services via Airdrie and Bathgate, while fans of the losing side would travel via Falkirk High.
ACC Skelly said potential battlegrounds would be heavily patrolled by police. “It’s predictable that if there are going to be flashpoints it’s likely to be when emotions are running high and when people come back into contact,” he said.
“That’s why we have the plans we have and the officers deployed, and that’s why we are encouraging people not to drink so heavily because that will only fuel flashpoints.”
Meanwhile, both clubs have urged supporters not to congregate at Tynecastle or Easter Road should they emerge triumphant on Saturday.
Supporters’ celebrations have been earmarked for the following day where they can participate in the victory parade through the city or watch festivities inside the stadium.
• Planning on travelling to the match? Click here for police information
Alive and kicking
The Evening News Cup final video was continuing to storm the internet yesterday, ahead of the weekend’s historic derby.
The Papershop Boys’ version of “Go East” has proved a hit with Capital football fans and has been seen 90,000 times on YouTube. And our cheeky version of an old classic has even picked up fans in the west, with more than a few generous comments from “weedgies” who are hoping Hearts and Hibs have a cracking Cup final day at Hampden.
CARRY THE CAN
THE penalties for drinking in a hired coach range from fines of up to £1000 to a possible jail term.
Both the driver and operator can also face fines of up to £1000, whilst being drunk on a coach can carry a £500 penalty. An accused must prove that the alcohol was carried on the vehicle without his consent or connivance and that he did all he reasonably could to prevent it.
Stop and search operation
POLICE will be targeting supporters’ buses for boozing fans in a dedicated stop-and-search operation ahead of the Scottish Cup final.
Both Hearts and Hibs have informed their fans that official coaches could be inspected by police officers on the morning of the game who would confiscate any alcohol found on board.
The guilty passenger could face a spot fine, but in practice is more likely to have the alcohol removed. However, bus operators and drivers face prosecution if a passenger is drinking alcohol on board and could be hit with a maximum fine of £1000.
Chief Superintendent Gill Imery, divisional commander for the City of Edinburgh, said: “Lothian and Borders Police are committed to ensuring the forthcoming Scottish Cup final between Heart of Midlothian FC and Hibernian FC is not ruined for the thousands expected to attend the match by alcohol.
“Officers have been in continued discussion with partner agencies and with coach companies scheduled to transport fans to Hampden and it has been agreed that coaches travelling to the match will be searched for alcohol.
“Any coach passengers found to be in possession of alcohol will have it removed.”