The Scottish Football Association will lead discussions to allow alcohol to be sold at football grounds in Scotland and is satisfied it is time to end a ban which stretches back to 1980.
The governing body knows the sale of beer, wine and potentially other alcoholic drinks would be a fantastic revenue driver, not least for international matches at Hampden Park. Drinks are sold at virtually every other sporting event in Scotland and, ironically, alcohol can be sold in football grounds when other events are taking place, like concerts.
Of course, it happens in English football and in virtually every other European country. However, there has been a consistent reluctance from authorities and the police to relax the rulings in Scotland.
Alcohol was never sold in Scottish grounds – supporters simply brought their own with them. However, this was outlawed by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act following a full-scale on-field riot between Celtic and Rangers followers in the aftermath of the 1980 Scottish Cup final.
SFA president Campbell Ogilvie yesterday made it clear he feels the time is right to scrap this piece of legislation.
He said: “We would be satisfied as long as the safety authorities were satisfied, simple as that.
“Over the years corporate hospitality has expanded within grounds, it (drinking in stadia) happens down south and it happens in other sports in Scotland. Football is evolving and things change. A lot of the issues in football are perceived issues. There were some perceived issues about Friday night football, for example, but there have been no problems.
“The SFA are happy to have discussions with the various authorities and obviously the police, the government and safety authorities will have views on it.
“So the only way it will ever be implemented will be if all of these bodies agree. The debate will not go away and the SFA are only too happy to take part.
“I’m sure if alcohol was ever brought back in to stadia it would be evaluated very carefully to satisfy everyone involved.
“The only way it will happen is if everyone is involved and the collective constituents are satisfied.”
Rangers, where Campbell Ogilvie previously worked, were keen proponents for the abolition of the ban and other clubs can see the huge economic benefit.
Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson also feels the time is right to sell alcohol at Scottish football matches.
She said: “I understand why the ban was brought in all those years ago, but times have changed significantly since then. We now have modern stadia with excellent stewarding to keep spectators safer, allowing more families to attend matches.
“This has resulted in the football-watching experience being a far more civilised experience than it was 30 years ago.”