Campaigners want a ban on alcohol sponsorship in Scottish sport

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Ali Price's second-half try helped Glasgow to victory against EdinburghImage source, SNS
Image caption,
Researchers found an extremely high volume of alcohol marketing during a match between Scotland's two professional rugby teams

Campaigners are calling for alcohol sponsorship to be banned in Scottish sport.

An academic study found drink advertising features every 15 seconds at some high-level fixtures.

Researchers found alcohol companies represented 7% of the main official sponsors or partners of Scottish football and rugby teams in 2018-19.

Sports minister Joe FitzPatrick said he would begin a consultation on alcohol sponsorship restrictions.

The charity Alcohol Focus Scotland and public health experts from Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (Shaap) want the Scottish government to ban alcohol sponsorship from sport.

'Highly visible'

The University of Stirling study examined the top two SPFL divisions and both of Scotland's professional rugby union teams, as well as the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Rugby.

It found drinks companies made up 15% of official sponsors or partners in rugby union and 4% in football.

Alcohol sponsorship used "a variety of marketing activities to ensure that it is highly visible and appears salient to consumers".

These include kit logos, stadium advertising, limited edition products and players featuring in marketing content.

Image source, Getty Images

The academics also analysed the frequency of alcohol marketing in seven sports broadcasts in 2018-19.

On average, an alcohol reference featured around once every 15 seconds in the Six Nations match between Scotland and England.

For Scottish Premiership football highlights, it happened every 57 seconds on average, decreasing to 71 seconds in the Scottish Cup final and 98 seconds in a league match.

They said they attempted to analyse the alcohol marketing references in a game between Scotland's two professional rugby teams - Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby - but were unable to do so due to the high volume.

The University of Stirling's Richard Purves said sponsorship was particularly visible in rugby union, while in football it was more prevalent among top levels teams.

Alcohol Focus Scotland chief executive Alison Douglas said a lack of regulation meant the current system was "failing to protect people" - particularly "children and other vulnerable young people".

She said: "Sport should be clean - it should inspire good health and active participation - and to use it as a promotional vehicle for an addictive and health-harming product is simply unacceptable.

"The current system of self-regulation is no regulation. The Scottish government needs to act."

Shaap director Dr Eric Carlin called on clubs to follow the lead of Scottish women's football in rejecting alcohol and gambling sponsorship.

Image source, SNS
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Scottish women's football does not accept alcohol sponsorship

Sports minister Joe FitzPatrick said: "We welcome all emerging research on alcohol marketing in Scotland.

"We want to go further to protect our children and young people from alcohol harms and that is why I intend this year to consult on potential mandatory restrictions on alcohol marketing and advertising.

"Scotland will be the first of the UK nations to do so."

He repeated a call for the UK government to introduce a 21:00 watershed on alcohol advertising on TV, or devolve powers to enable Scotland to do so.

A spokesperson for Scottish Rugby said it ensured that "responsible messages are prevalent" during match days at Murrayfield.

"Sponsorship revenue attracted to the elite level of the sport helps us reinvest record amounts into the grassroots game, for the betterment of the game and society moreover by encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle through participation," it added.