Paisley’s MSP wants to call time on booze ban for supporters at St Mirren Park

Story from Paisley Daily Express – http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/paisley-msp-wants-call-time-5064146

Paisley MSP George Adam has called for St Mirren Park to be used in a pilot scheme to bring booze back to football.

The Saints fan has asked Minister for Sport Jamie Hepburn if the SPFL club could be used in a trial to examine the re-introduction of selling alcohol at matches.

And he has backing from St Mirren chief executive Brian Caldwell.

George at St Mirren Park

George at St Mirren Park

Since 1980, alcohol has been banned from Scottish grounds but Mr Adam believes the time could have come to ease restrictions.

But growing moves have been made to the reverse the ban.

Mr Adam said: “I like having a pint before the game on a Saturday and why should the presumption be that I will misbehave if I do?

“We also need to think about the financial aspect … lifting the ban could give clubs a much-needed financial boost.

“We do need to have a good look at this issue again, in an informed and considered manner.

“I will work with any interested party looking to take this matter forward and I have written to the head of Police Scotland and the SPFL asking for their views at this stage.”

Mr Adam pointed out the recent success of a free Fans’ Zone at St Mirren Park last month, which was attended by 200 adults and children before a match against Motherwell.

He added: “A marquee was erected in the car park, kids were able to kick a ball about and play computer games, while adults were able to enjoy a drink and listen to live music.

“It was a great atmosphere and proof that alcohol can be consumed at the ground before a game.

“Since the ban back in 1980, the game has changed dramatically as has the modern stadium.

“All Scottish Premiership grounds are now all-seater, have expensive security and CCTV systems monitoring the crowd and more importantly, gone are the days of the running battles in the streets before and after games.

“Were these fights even fuelled by alcohol, or were they just a product of their time?

“I choose now to put faith in the football fan, like we do with rugby fans across our nation.”

The initial response from Mr Hepburn was that – after seeking advice from Police Scotland – the Scottish Government is not leaning towards to lift the ban.

But, according to Saints chief executive Brian Caldwell, the Fans’ Zone initiative shows what can be achieved if it’s handled in the right way.

He said: “We have the newest stadium in Scottish football and have no pubs in close proximity, therefore to have the option to segregate and allow supporters to come to the stadium early and enjoy a drink would be a positive move and be a no-brainer for our club and both sets of supporters.

“The Fans’ Zone was extremely successful and all those attending enjoyed coming to the stadium early in a family environment and enjoying a few pre-match drinks.

“Stadiums have better facilities than ever before, with so many modern stadia and this has worked for rugby, the Commonwealth Games and other sporting events in Scotland, as well as for football and other sporting events in England and many other countries around the world.

“Now is the time to run a pilot and we would be happy to be involved with the new facilities we have in Paisley.”