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Fan Experience

Celtic handed licence to sell alcohol at stadium

Featured image credit: Vincenzo.togni/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

Featured image credit: Vincenzo.togni/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

Celtic fans that attended Saturday’s win over Ross County were able to enjoy a pre-match pint at Celtic Park after the Scottish Premiership club was granted a licence to sell alcohol in the West Stand concourse.

Alcohol was available in the stand from 11am until 1pm ahead of the 3pm kickoff.

The sale of alcohol at Scottish football grounds has been prohibited for more than 40 years after a riot at the Scottish Cup final in 1980, but Celtic announced prior to Saturday’s game that it had received a licence to sell beer for a two-hour period.

Supporters visiting the West Stand concourse ahead of the match were able to enter via Gate WS57/58 to enjoy the facilities until 1pm. The area was then cleared, with supporters able to re-enter the stadium via turnstiles as normal from 1:30pm.

The sale of alcohol is allowed at football grounds in England and Wales, although fans are not able to drink while watching the game.

Last week, the proposed return of alcohol to the stands of English football stadia was criticised by the sport’s police chief, who claimed it would be more costly for clubs and deter families from attending games.

The overturning of English football’s long-held ban on fans drinking alcoholic beverages while watching games has been on the cards following the recommendations of former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review into the sport.

The independent review, announced by then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden in April 2021, sought to explore ways of improving the governance, ownership and financial sustainability of clubs in English football, building on the strengths of the football pyramid.

The Government in April backed plans to form an independent regulator for English football after endorsing the recommendations made last year as part of the Fan-Led Review of English Football Governance.

The alcohol ban has been in place since 1985, when the English game was beset by hooliganism, but the potential return was included as one of the recommendations from the Crouch report. However, speaking at a Parliamentary hearing into safety at major sporting events, Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary Mark Roberts, who serves as the national lead for football policing, voiced his strong opposition to changes in the current law.

Pilot schemes have been previously talked of to permit drinking at clubs in the National League Premier and League Two, with a view to ending the restrictions across all divisions, a move said to be backed by Martyn Henderson, chief executive of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA).