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In late April, Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said that the club would like to be able to sell alcohol to fans in a controlled environment.

To some, it’s no doubt a controversial and potentially unwelcome move. For me, it’s a step in the right direction.

The more mature readers of this blog will remember 1980 for many reasons including the SAS storming the Iranian Embassy in London, Margaret Thatcher telling the Conservative Party conference: “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning” and the assassination of John Lennon outside his New York apartment.

Many Scottish football fans will remember 1980 for the Scottish Cup Final and not necessarily for the game or the result, but rather the scenes of disorder which followed the final whistle. A result of those clashes, was the introduction of new legislation which banned the sale of alcohol within stadiums.

I believe that football has come a long way since 1980. The fanbase of football has altered with corporate clients, women and children now commonplace. All seater stadia have been introduced, bringing “carry outs” is no longer permitted, stewarding and policing of stadiums has improved, harsher penalties for fans who are involved in disorder are commonplace eg. banning orders, cancellation of season tickets are amongst a number of measures which have changed the atmosphere and behaviour of fans at football games.

For me Scottish football fans have far too often been demonised and are treated detrimentally because of past events, some of which took place over 30 years ago, or outside of Scotland involving non-Scottish clubs and fans.

In Scotland, the ban on alcohol currently applies only to football matches, but not to other sporting events or concerts held at stadia. We’re allowed to drink freely whilst watching Scotland’s rugby union team play at Murrayfield Stadium, as in 2007 the Scottish government lifted the ban for international rugby matches. If I head along to Hampden Park this summer to watch Bruce Springsteen then I can do so with a pint in my hand. Likewise if I go to watch a comedian at the SECC, or a play at one of Glasgow’s many theatres then I am able to enjoy the evening with an alcoholic drink.

Rugby union fans enjoy a beer in stands at a Newcastle Falcons Premiership game

Rugby union fans enjoy a beer in stands at a Newcastle Falcons Premiership game

Do the Government really believe that people attending a football match represent a significantly higher risk, than those attending the above events. Nowadays, football fans come from many different sections of society, the same sections of society that attend mass participation events such as gigs, theatre or other sporting events, yet the general consensus is that football fans cannot be trusted to drink and behave whilst at the game.

If on a match day, you walk around the neighbourhoods of Cappielow, Tannadice or Palmerston Park and every other football stadium throughout the land, then you’ll witness fans (of both teams) enjoy a pre and post match drink in the pubs and bars in the area. By re-introducing alcohol in stadiums and allowing fans to have an extra couple of pints, is that really going to turn law abiding fans into unruly hooligans?

Certain sections of the media and several so called experts have made a considerable deal of Peter Lawwell’s statement in an attempt to whip up hysteria and derail the plans. They should be aware that the reintroduction of alcohol into Scottish stadia, perhaps isn’t as much a huge step as it’s perceived to be. At Scottish games,  alcohol is permitted to be sold to fans who are in hospitality and corporate areas during football matches.

'No Alcoholic Drinks Beyond This Point' at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough

‘No Alcoholic Drinks Beyond This Point’ at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough

At Premiership, Championship and lower leagues matches in England, fans are allowed to buy alcohol, before, during and after games – but are not allowed to take alcohol back to their seats.

Stadium of Light concourse sign 'No Alcohol Beyond This Point'

Stadium of Light concourse sign ‘No Alcohol Beyond This Point’

I would welcome that type of controlled model being re-introduced into Scottish football, which would enable fans not only enjoy a pint at a match but also be treated like every other section of society, but what do you think? Is this a step too far, will we see an increase in crowd disorder? Let me know?

Post written by Sean McColm
Twitter: @wypcblog

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