Football fans will soon be able to drink alcohol in their seats for the first time in 36 years.
This is one of many changes to the matchday experience that are being recommended by Tracey Crouch MP, whose independent report on the matter is set to be published next month.
According to The Times, the review will call for a pilot scheme allowing alcohol to be drank in stadium seats for clubs in the National League and League Two. Should that trial be a success, the review hopes the initiative can be rolled out to all levels of the professional game, including the Premier League.
Football fans were banned from consuming alcohol within sight of the pitch in 1985 due to hooliganism. However, fans of other sports, such as cricket and rugby, can still drink in their seat, with Crouch quoted as saying ‘our view on alcohol and football is outdated’.
“It’s not helped when you see scenes like we did at Wembley,” she said. “But that’s why I would pilot it first. Let’s get the data. My view is not some kind of altruistic view that fans should be able to drink at football. It’s also about allowing clubs to be able to sustain themselves.
It was an absolute honour to be part of @KensingtonRoyal visit to @DulwichHamletFC to discuss in further detail the fan led review and it’s importance for the future of English football, wherever you sit with the pyramid pic.twitter.com/Pkzd8eN6sA
— Tracey Crouch (@tracey_crouch) September 23, 2021
“We can look at things like an independent regulator as part of this process. But football has to take a bit of responsibility for itself and sustain itself better. We kettle people into drinking quickly at half-time. And that is the unhealthy aspect of the football fan’s relationship with alcohol. They drink a lot in a short space of time. So my recommendation is to pilot this and not have to down a pint at half-time.”
The review has also called for the government to eradicate betting companies’ involvement with the beautiful game. It’s understood that the latter are keen to do so, with gambling sponsors on shirts and stadium billboards expected to be banned. Regulations on betting adverts on TV and radio are also being considered.
One EFL side have already taken such a step. On Wednesday, League 1 Bolton Wanderers severed all ties with betting companies, with the club’s chair Sharon Brittain keen to do help and not hinder those struggling with this addiction.
🚫 Bolton Wanderers will no longer provide any on-site betting provision at the @UoBStadium or enter into any new commercial partnerships and sponsorships with firms representing the gambling industry.#BWFC 🐘🏰
— Bolton Wanderers (@OfficialBWFC) September 23, 2021
Latest research shows that there are between 340,000 and 1.4 million adult gambling addicts in the UK and over 60,000 young people aged between 11 and 16 are addicted. We as an industry must do more.”