Fans high as alcohol allowed in Scotland digs


Celtic fans can drink alcohol in the stadium now Image: Celtic FC

On November 12th at the Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, a notable event took place, one that was a small piece of Scottish football history. The Scottish Premiership (the top division of the Scottish Professional Football League) team Celtic was granted an alcohol license for the West Stand Concourse in their residence – Celtic Park – ahead of their match with their peer team Ross County F.C.

‘The Celtic Star’ stated that Celtic fans could buy alcohol in the main concourse of the ground. Anyone who has traveled to England (UK) for football will find this unremarkable but it is not something that happens in Scotland. The sale or consumption of alcohol in the Scottish football grounds has (mostly) been banned since 1981.

The Celtic Park is the home stadium of Celtic Football Club in the Parkhead area of Glasgow, Scotland. With a capacity of 60,832, it is the largest football stadium in Scotland, and the eighth-largest stadium in the United Kingdom. It is also known as Parkhead or Paradise.

The Celtic Football Club, commonly known as Celtic, is a Scottish professional football club based in Glasgow, Scotland, which plays in the Scottish Premiership. The club was founded in 1887 with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the immigrant Irish population in the East End of Glasgow.

The Ross County Football Club is a professional football club based in Dingwall, Scotland. They play all of their home matches at the Victoria Park in Dingwall. The club currently plays in the Scottish Premiership, being promoted after winning the Scottish Championship in the 2018-2019 seasons.

The 6,541-capacity Victoria Park, also known as the Global Energy Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is an all-seater football stadium in the town of Dingwall, Highland, Scotland. It is the home ground of Ross County F.C., who currently play in the Scottish Premiership.

‘The Celtic Star’ further stated that of course Celtic’s actions were not without restrictions. Alcohol was only available in one area of the stadium (part of the Jock Stein Stand in the West Stand Concourse), between 11 am and 1 pm. Fans also then had to leave the ground before being readmitted. But this was still a notable change from the usual practice.

There has long been a debate about whether or not alcohol should be sold by clubs in stadiums but such plans have generally (mainly) been rejected. In fact, Scottish football and alcohol have a long, complicated and often controversial relationship.

‘GlasgowTimes’ stated that fans were able to enjoy a pre-match pint inside the stadium from 11 am until 1 pm ahead of the afternoon kickoff.

The sale and availability of alcohol has been subject to strict conditions for over forty years in Scotland after a riot at the Scottish Cup Final in 1980.

‘GlasgowTimes’ further stated that but many fans feel it’s draconian they can enjoy a beer at a cinema, theater or music gig while being unable to do so when watching their favorite team in action on the pitch.

English and Welsh fans remain able to have a drink in football ground concourses across United Kingdom right until kickoff, although they are not allowed to take them to their seats.

A relaxation of the law around alcohol sales offers a huge potential cash boon for Scottish clubs.

Earlier, a statement sent out by Celtic read, “Ahead of today’s (November 12th) cinch Premiership match vs. Ross County, the club is pleased to announce that a license has been granted for the sale of alcohol in the West Stand Concourse from 11 am until 1 pm, with the area open for supporters looking to arrive early on matchday and enjoy the buildup to kickoff. Supporters visiting the West Stand concourse ahead of the match can enter via Gate WS57/58 to enjoy the facilities until 1 pm. Thereafter, the area will be cleared and supporters can re-enter the stadium via turnstiles as normal from 1:30 pm ahead of kickoff (3 pm). With kiosks open, seating areas available and live football on screen, we are pleased to further enhance our pre-match offering to supporters with the addition of a licensed area ahead of the November 12th match. Please be aware that our concourses are cashless facilities, with only contactless payment methods accepted.”

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