Lifting alcohol ban 'definitely' worth exploring - Scottish FA chief Ian Maxwell

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland
Lifting booze ban 'conversation worth having' - Maxwell

Lifting the 38-year ban on the sale of alcohol at football matches in Scotland is "definitely a conversation worth having", says Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell.

The Scottish FA, Scottish Government and Police Scotland are considering a pilot using Euro 2020 games at Hampden.

Maxwell believes the tournament "gives us the opportunity" to start "phasing" in alcohol sales at certain fixtures.

"Legislation hasn't been reviewed since the 1980s, I think," Maxwell said.

"I think it's the only piece of legislation that hasn't been. No-one is sitting here suggesting you're going to have alcohol at every single football match - it would obviously have to be staged.

"Does Euro 2020 give us the opportunity to go and start that? We think it does. But the conversations are a very early stage. We've not opened that door yet but it's something we need to look to try and do."

Disorder at the 1980 Scottish Cup final between Rangers and Celtic led to the introduction of the ban.

Glasgow would be the only one of 12 Euro 2020 host cities where fans could not buy alcohol in the stadium.

"Uefa relaxed their laws to say countries that have suitable legislation can have alcohol at football matches," Maxwell told BBC Scotland.

"I don't know the details in terms of others that don't but it's about attracting people to the game, and if not having alcohol at matches is a barrier, then that's something we should look to change."

'Scotland was shamed into banning booze' - analysis

BBC Scotland's sports news correspondent Chris McLaughlin

The nature of the 1980 Hampden riot and the outrage that followed, meant there was little opposition when the rules were changed. Scotland was shamed into banning booze.

But a new generation of fans feel they are being punished for the sins of the past. They are not asking to bring crates of lager or large bottles of cider into matches across the country, they simply want to be treated like fans of others sports who can buy a beer while watching from the stands.

There are influential figures within the game, the government and the police, who are keen that Hampden isn't the only host city of Euro 2020 where fans can't buy alcohol in the ground. The thought of having to explain why has forced a rethink. Those against are once again mobilising, though - the Scottish Police Federation says the risk is just too great.

The issue been discussed many times since 1980 but this time feels different. The thirst for change has never been greater.

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