Giving Supporters Representation

Scottish Supporters Network

Supported by:   Supporters Direct Scotland

Pie and a Pint

Date: 11th January 2018

By Scott Johnston, Editor of The Footy Blog & DP for Full Time Films.

 

One major grievance your modern day football fan has in Scotland is the fact that they can’t enjoy a beer at the game.

Personally I think it could be the right time to look at introducing alcohol back into our football stands.

People state that in the eighties the behaviour of louts running riot in the terraces and the streets, made match day experiences terrible for the average supporter who was just interested in watching the game. Although I understand that argument, that was over thirty years ago now.

Scotland, as a country, still seems to lack understanding when it comes down to it’s society’s problems with alcohol. For me, I want a more measured (pardon the pun) approach. I think we need to embrace eduction on the subject and give football fans the chance to prove that they aren’t all brainless alcoholic hooligans. 

I think a lot of Scottish football supporters believe they’re being victimised by the police and politicians when it comes to legislation that affects our game like no alcohol in stadia or the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.

I believe when you treat people in certain ways without giving them the benefit of the doubt then they’ll rebel and behave in the way in which you didn’t want them to do in the first place.

If you go to other sporting or major social events, then as a paying customer you’ll be allowed purchase an alcoholic beverage. Surely it’s time to give football fans the same opportunity.

For football clubs, it could mean more money is generated at the kiosks. I’d like to think they could trust their support to make it work. At the moment they’ll open their suites and have boozy brunches or the like and fans will get on the bevy early knowing they have a deadline looming before kick-off.

Now I’m not calling for an no-holds barred return to drinking at football, we will need pilot schemes and restrictions to get MSPs and the police on board. Obviously open conversations need to be held between fan organisations, clubs and the authorities but as a diplomatic nation we should always encourage transparent, polite and regular dialogue between those parties on various wide-ranging issues.

I personally would like to introduce ‘A Pie and a Pint!’ type initiative.

When holidaying in Italy last summer, I noticed in bars between 5pm and 7pm, they would offer you drinks like cocktails, wine or a pint of beer and within the cost they also gave you a plate for a buffet set-up on the bar top. Now I’m talking about pasta or rice salads, small roast potatoes, garlic bread, cold meat and cheeses. You’d get your drink and a free stab at the buffet. The point is to relax with your drink, take in some food (especially carbs) and that then absorbs the alcohol. It stops people getting extremely drunk quickly, which means they can stay in the bar and spend more money without causing trouble.

With that in mind, I was thinking why not introduce a scheme for season ticket holders. A lot of clubs issue season tickets on electronic cards, so they can use these cards before kick-off and/or at half-time to get a pint/bottle of beer or a glass of wine on the proviso that they also purchase a carb heavy food product like a pie, bridie, sausage roll or a vegetarian equivalent. That means you restrict the amount of units they are drinking and you are also giving them some food to soak up the alcohol.

Now people will state that they might throw the food away, but then have stewards by the bins and if they throw way the food then they take the booze off of them too. If the food waste grows then the scheme stops at that ground.

You also wouldn’t have family stands/areas partaking in the scheme. I think it’s still important to keep alcohol away from the younger audience.

By restricting the numbers of people allowed (season ticket holders only) and by restricting the amount of alcohol units that they can drink, you should be able to placate the authorities that it’s not just a free for all.

Then it is up to the supporters to prove that they can be trusted with the responsibility and that they aren’t all drunken yobs. I think the safe seating area at Celtic Park has been an absolute success story and that fans have handled that extra responsibility/scrutiny tremendously well. Yet people stated for years that standing terraces couldn’t work again in Scotland.

We need to start talking again when it comes to this issue. We cannot keep treating everyday football supporters as if they are second class citizens who cannot be trusted in our society. The fact remains that if people want to drink then they will drink before the games, so let’s make it more acceptable to drink sensibly rather than have them trying to beat the clock and think of nothing else!

 

Posted in: Latest News