Britain’s top football police officer has described the lifting of an alcohol ban inside stadiums as ‘madness’ and accused the panel proposing it of failing to make any attempt to discuss it with him.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire Police told Sportsmail that the inclusion of an end to the 36-year ban on alcohol being consumed in sight of the pitch seems an attempt to win popularity with supporters by the fan-led review headed by Tracey Crouch MP.
He said there has been no attempt to consult with police – five months after drunken disorder marred the Euro 2020 final and saw England forced to play a game behind closed doors.
Crouch’s review has called on Government and the UK Football Policing Unit, which Roberts leads, to work on the design of a small-scale alcohol pilot in the National League and League Two.
Football’s top football police officer Chief Constable Mark Roberts (right) has labelled MP Tracey Crouch’s (left) proposal to allow drinking in the stands at stadiums in ‘madness’
Alcohol has not been consumed in sight of the pitch at games in England for the last 36 years
Roberts said: ‘This seems to be tagged onto the end of the fan-led review to curry favour win fans. ‘It’s, “We will let you drink.”
‘It is unpicking something which is designed to make things safer for fans. It perhaps says a lot that the police haven’t been consulted or given notice of its recommendations.
‘Many would say that they do not want it anyway and would not welcome fans in front of them getting up during games to go and buy alcohol.
‘It is being proposed at a time when we are seeing many worrying instances of violence at football at all levels, so the timing is bizarre.
Roberts said there has been no attempt to consult with police – five months after drunken disorder marred the Euro 2020 final
‘There seems to be a suggestion that if it works at the bottom of the lower league, then it will do so through the game. That is bizarre.
‘There is a clear link between alcohol and poor behaviour, not just in football but broader society, and increasingly we are seeing growing concerns in rugby and cricket about the negative impact on fans’ experiences.
‘On Saturday, we had reports of a drunk fan vomiting on a boy who was his first rugby match when he attended Wales v Australia with his parents.’
Crouch said in response: ‘This is a recommendation entirely driven on financial sustainability at the lowest parts of the football pyramid.’