Football’s chief of law enforcement says there is “no evidence base” to support a judgment allowing the sale of alcohol at high-profile matches.
The fan-led review, chaired by Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, recommended last November that a series of small-scale pilots allowing the sale of alcohol on sight of the pitch should take place at a selection of National League and League Two clubs.
It is currently illegal for fans to drink in their seats or in the stands from the fifth division of the National League and upwards.
The recommendation comes against a background of growing disorder, with data published by the Home Office on Thursday showing football-related arrests at their highest level in eight years last season, while incidents of disorder were reported in 53% of all arrests. regulated games in England and Wales in that campaign.
Chief of Police Mark Roberts, leader of the National Council of Chiefs of Police for policing football, says alcohol is a “perennial engine” of misbehavior in football and society at large and he continues to vehemently oppose any driver. to occur.
“I’ve been very consistent, I never thought it was appropriate,” he told the PA news agency.
“We have a relationship with alcohol in this country that leads to bad behavior. I have been unequivocal in my statements and in my representations to the government that (a pilot) is absolutely the wrong thing to do.
“I question the evidence supporting Crouch’s review recommendation. What is the evidence base? When you talk to fans, the vast majority I talk to are usually very happy to have a drink before the game, at half-time and after the game.
“If you can’t go 45 minutes without drinking, you probably have a problem.
“And really, just the mechanics of it – if you’re a sitting fan and people are constantly passing you with drinks, then go to the bathroom…
“We’ve seen the bizarre habit of tossing £8 mugs in the air when people score – it’s only going to cause aggravation.
“I don’t see any evidence base for it, I don’t see a massive outcry for it. I think the situation we have is perfectly acceptable and I remain absolutely against any relaxation of alcohol in football.”
In April, the government accepted the recommendation of the fan-led review to revise the Sports Events (Alcohol Control) Act of 1985, which prohibits the sale of alcohol on the field.
“The government recognizes the potential commercial benefits that a move in this direction can bring to clubs, particularly at the base of the football pyramid, but this must be balanced with broader fan safety considerations,” the response document said.
He also noted, however, that Baroness Casey’s review of the chaos at the Euro 2020 final at Wembley last year identified alcohol consumption as a “key driver” of anti-social behavior.