If football clubs want to sell alcohol, they must tackle sectarianism and fans’ bad behaviour – Helen Martin

Hibernian chairman Ron Gordon wants to sell booze at footballHibernian chairman Ron Gordon wants to sell booze at football
Hibernian chairman Ron Gordon wants to sell booze at football | Copyrighted Work
Scottish Government could demand action on fans’ swearing and violence as part of a deal to allow football clubs to sell alcohol, writes Helen Martin.

AS followers of Scotland’s major sport, football fans include those who love playing the sport itself and those who are loyal club fans, rich and poor, young and old, male and female,

Alas, loud f-ing and c-ing, sectarianism, mental ‘warfare’, and after-match violence, sometimes affecting the public and fuelled by bevvy, isn’t rare.

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Ron Gordon, Hibs’ new owner, now wants a trial of bringing booze back to stadiums in Scotland after 40 years. That’s a complex decision for the Government.

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Many people, including Sir Tom Farmer, agree that alcohol can fire up bad behaviour. But still, he’d like to give stadium bars a try. And some of my mates agree.

One told me: “Because nothing is available in the stadium, folk meet in a pub beforehand and swig back as much as possible, sometimes even with a wee bottle of whisky or vodka smuggled in to the game. Beer available at the match would totally change that.” He was right, logical and fair, speaking on behalf of spectators and fans, encouraging reasonable sipping rather than over-indulgence.

But for that ‘reward’, football has to change. At rugby matches, booze is available. Supporters of opposing teams aren’t separated, they sit together and don’t fight. There are more women and children in a jolly atmosphere. Disappointment is personal and doesn’t turn into mob warfare. Some football fans share the same attitude.

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But football clubs still don’t take control and responsibility for bad behaviour and sectarianism. (Some of that has even been caught on film in corporate hospitality areas where drinks are on tap.) All that could be made part of the Government deal if clubs were permitted to make more income from selling booze.

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