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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 21:33 GMT
Boyle urges alcohol ban rethink
Motherwell chairman John Boyle
Boyle said football fans were being short-changed
Motherwell chairman John Boyle has urged the authorities to lift the "absurd" alcohol ban at football grounds in Scotland.

A ban was introduced after violent clashes during the 1980 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

"We need an upgrade. The situation is absolutely ludicrous and football fans are discriminated against," he said.

Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith said it was for the authorities and police to decide on the ban.

Rugby fans attending matches at Murrayfield in Edinburgh and at Firhill in Glasgow are able to buy alcohol.

Boyle said it was time to allow football fans to enjoy alcohol at the game.

Describing the current situation as "absurd", he added: "We now have all-seated stadia, facilities are greatly enhanced and we have security measures including CCTV.

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith
We need to look at whether football fans could be relied upon to behave

SFA chief executive
Gordon Smith

"Anybody abusing the privilege of buying a drink when they watch their local football team will be apprehended and removed.

"You can go to Firhill on a Friday night and watch the Glasgow Warriors rugby team and take a pint of beer to your seat - and enjoy watching your chosen sport.

"Twelve hours later when Partick Thistle are playing you're prohibited from doing any such thing."

Boyle added: "That's nonsensical. Why should football fans be singled out? The whole thing needs a root and branch review."

The SFA said removing the ban was a matter for the authorities, but did concede the issue was worthy of further debate.

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith said: "We don't really have a perspective on it as such, because it's really down to the authorities and the police to make a decision on this kind of thing.

"It would be up to them whether they'd be comfortable with people drinking at matches. I can understand why some people want it.

"The big worry is that football has had a problem before in terms of people misbehaving and sometimes alcohol was given as a reason for that."

Smith said he could understand concerns about alcohol fuelling crowd trouble after the violent scenes of the 1980 Scottish Cup Final.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

"That was a benchmark," he said. "It was a match that I actually played in and I saw the consequences of it.

"From that point of view we really need to look at whether there's been a big enough change that football fans could be relied upon to behave."

Assistant Chief Constable Kevin Smith, chairperson of the ACPOS policing business area's football sub-committee, said he appreciated the commercial incentives of lifting the ban.

"However, Scottish football has been complimented for being a progressively safer environment for spectators and the restriction of alcohol is one of the key components of this successful model," he added.



SEE ALSO
SPL calls for booze ban 'rethink'
28 Jun 07 |  Scotland
SPL aims to reintroduce alcohol
18 Jun 07 |  Scottish Premier


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