Football police chief warns against ‘dangerous’ return of alcohol during matches in England

Conservative former ministers Alun Cairns and David Mundell said fans travelling to Qatar for the World Cup must not be priced out of enjoying a pint (Johnny Green/PA) (PA Wire)
Conservative former ministers Alun Cairns and David Mundell said fans travelling to Qatar for the World Cup must not be priced out of enjoying a pint (Johnny Green/PA) (PA Wire)

The proposed return of alcohol during football matches in England would be dangerous and costly to clubs, football’s police chief has warned.

As part of her widespread review into football, Tracey Crouch MP recommended drinking in seats during matches could make a comeback for the first time since the 1980s.

But speaking at a Parliamentary hearing into safety at major sporting events in Westminster on Tuesday, chief constable Mark Roberts told MPs it was the wrong approach and warned of families being the victims of “lager shampoo” on matchdays.

He said of the proposal: “All you would, in effect, do if you move the prohibition is people would still drink to excess outside but then arrive and carry on drinking. So you’d afford them 90 minutes extra time to drink more alcohol and cause us more problems.

“If the argument is that it’s financially beneficial for clubs, I don’t think it would be because you’d have that many problems you’d have to pay for more policing in stadiums to deal with the issues.

“You’d then have the issues of people throwing beer in the air which you see it all the time at BoxPark and the like. If you’re there with the family and every time a goal goes in you get a lager shampoo it doesn’t make it conducive. I think it’s a really dangerous argument to suggest that we should be bringing alcohol back.”

Crouch had suggested potentially trialling the idea at lower league clubs, which received backing from Martyn Henderson, chief executive of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.

But Roberts added: “I do disagree with Martyn and Tracey Crouch’s view on this. They [lower league grounds] won’t have access to stewards, won’t be able to pay for the levels of policing required.

“There isn’t normally CCTV, there isn’t segregation. So you are pouring alcohol into a situation that’s more difficult to manage in any case. I think the benefit of a few extra pints will be massively outweighed because they get disorder and then they’ll have a policing bill.”