HEARTS and Hibs supporters today united in backing calls for the drinks ban to be lifted at Scottish football grounds,
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has written to all 42 senior football clubs in Scotland seeking their views on selling alcohol at matches.
She said fans could buy alcohol before matches and at half-time inside football stadia in England, as well as at other sporting events in Scotland.
And she claimed it was time to review the ban introduced after rioting during the Scottish Cup final in 1980.
Steve Kilgour, of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, said lifting the ban would be a welcome move,
He said: “Anything that helps the clubs generate more money, especially in these hard times, has to be welcomed.
“If people are going to drink to excess they’re probably more likely to do it in the pub beforehand, but the stewards only have 30 seconds as they approach the turnstile to decide if they’ve had too much, whereas if they were drinking on the concourse, there is more chance to monitor it.
“When I’ve been to games in England where drinking is allowed, there was no trouble. The dynamics of football have changed dramatically. There are a lot more women and children than there used to be.”
And Frank Dougan, ex-treasurer of the Hibs Supporters Association, also backed a lifting of the ban.
He said: “It’s a good idea – it should at least be trialled. Things have changed dramatically since 1980. People are more sensible about their drinking.”
He said if the authorities had reservations about high-profile clashes like an Edinburgh derby or a game against Celtic, there could be exceptions, but for the majority of matches there would not be a problem.
The two city clubs also signalled support. A Hearts spokesman said: “We would be interested in exploring anything that improved the matchday experience.”
And a Hibs spokesman said: “We would be very interested in taking forward any discussion of this and being involved in any pilot.”
But Dr Evelyn Gillan, of Alcohol Focus Scotland said police were best placed to advise on the impact of lifting the ban on public safety.
She said: “Football matches should be family-friendly events where children and young people are not exposed to alcohol-related harm.
“It’s unfortunate that in Scotland so much of our social life is associated with alcohol. This only serves to normalise drinking and reinforces the view that we can only enjoy sport and other events if alcohol is available.”
Riot broken up by mounted police
THE drinks ban at Scottish football grounds was introduced in the wake of the riots at the 1980 Scottish Cup Final clash between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden which had to be broken up by mounted police.
The game on May 10, 1980, was won 1-0 by Celtic after extra time, but the rioting which followed, involving both sets of supporters, has been described as the “most infamous case of disorder” at an Old Firm match.
Bricks, bottles and cans were thrown and fans used iron bars and wooden staves from terracing frames as weapons. More than 200 arrests were made. Both clubs were fined £20,000.