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Last Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Murrayfield alcohol ban removed
Murrayfield stadium
The sale of alcohol inside Murrayfield was banned in 1980
Rugby fans will be able to enjoy a pint while watching international games at Murrayfield, following an announcement by Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill.

A ban on the sale of alcohol in sports grounds was introduced after violent clashes during the 1980 Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

For a trial period, senior men's international rugby matches will no longer be included in the ban.

However, this would only be at designated grounds for certain events.

It will now be up to Edinburgh City Licensing Board to consider any application that Scottish Rugby puts forward for upcoming international matches.

This is not a licence to binge drink, to go to the rugby and get drunk
Kenny MacAskill
Justice Minister

Following the trial, ministers will examine the effect, particularly in relation to public safety and responsible sales.

Mr MacAskill said: "There is a world of difference between people drinking a bottle of cheap cider in a park to get drunk and enjoying a pint of beer at half-time of a rugby match.

"We've listened to representations from fans, Scottish Rugby and the police.

"The fans can't understand why they can have a drink at Twickenham and at Millennium Stadium and at some rugby games and not others.

"They want to be able to enjoy a civilised drink during international matches at Murrayfield."

However, the minister added: "This is not a licence to binge drink, to go to the rugby and get drunk."

'Excellent news'

He said limits would be in place and measures would ensure that responsible drinking is encouraged.

Stewards would also have the powers to take action against anyone who was causing a nuisance or making trouble.

"This government will also be closely monitoring how this works in practice and we will not hesitate to reintroduce the ban if necessary," he added.

Police with horses on football pitch
Police horses have been used to defuse clashes at football grounds

In return, Scottish Rugby said it would remain committed to supporting the promotion of responsible drinking throughout Scotland.

Scottish Rugby's chief executive Gordon McKie: "This is excellent news for Scottish Rugby and we will ensure the sale of alcohol at future Murrayfield internationals is managed responsibly.

"We are committed to growing the game and getting rugby out into all communities.

"Any financial benefit gained by the responsible sale of alcohol at Murrayfield will enable us to put even more investment into the grassroots, including facilities in the community game.

"We believe sport can play its part in reducing crime and inspiring youngsters through our Scotland players to take up rugby is a priority."

Fighting fans

The sale of alcohol was banned at stadiums across the country in the aftermath of the 1980 Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Rangers, which saw rival fans battling on the field and police on horseback attempting to defuse the trouble.

It was largely attributed to the volume of alcohol consumed by spectators.

Murrayfield was excluded from the original draft legislation but police proposed to introduce the alcohol ban at all major sporting venues.

  • Mr MacAskill was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly before the England versus Scotland Euro 2000 play-off at Wembley stadium.

    He had intended on going to the game but spent the night in police cells. He was not charged or cautioned and later claimed his arrest was due to a misunderstanding.

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