Sunderland AFC fans react to news Stadium of Light alcohol ban could be lifted

Sunderland fans have given their reaction to news that football’s long-standing ban on drinking alcohol while watching matches could be lifted.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 11:22 am

The ban has been in place since 1985 when the game was plagued by hooliganism, but former sports minister Tracey Crouch’s independent fan-led review will reportedly call for pilot schemes to allow drinking at clubs in the National League Premier and League Two with a view to ending the restrictions across all divisions.

The MP believes the current rules encourage binge-drinking: “Our view on alcohol and football is outdated,” she told the Times.

“We kettle people into drinking quickly at half-time and that is the unhealthy aspect of the football fan’s relationship with alcohol. They drink a lot in a short space of time.

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Could fans be allowed to enjoy a pint in the Stadium of Light stands for the first time?

"So my recommendation is to pilot this and not have to down a pint at half-time.”

Crouch was asked to conduct her review in April following the failed launch of the European Super League, looking at issues covering governance, ownership and the financial sustainability of clubs throughout the pyramid.

A Love Supreme’s Paul ‘Sobs’ Dawson said he did not think the change would have much impact on people’s behaviour: “It will probably be a bit chaotic at first, but then it will settle down,” he said.

“I don’t think it will affect the way people behave before the match – they are not going to say ‘I won’t bother meeting up with my mates in the pub’.”

Michael Ganley behind the bar in the Fans' Museum

"And I don’t think they will be getting up three or four times during the game to go and get a drink, because that is not what you are there for.”

Fans’ Museum founder Michael Ganley said he could see the benefit for clubs lower down the league: “The Fans’ Museum only survives because of out matchday offering and private events, so I would be the biggest hypocrite to say I am not in favour of alcohol,” he said.

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"But I am also a football fan and, at the end of the day, there are just so many areas of concern.”

Tracey Crouch MP

Additional revenue generated might be offset by additional expenses incurred: “It might mean you have to have extra staffing, stewarding and policing costs,” said Michael.

"It is very tricky.”

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