Drinking in football stands may lead to violence and ‘lager shampoos’, MPs told

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Britain’s top football police officer has told MPs that families inside stadiums could be soaked in “lager shampoos” whenever a goal goes in if the alcohol ban is lifted.

Chief constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire police also warned that the growing clamour to end the 36-year prohibition on drinking in view of the pitch was a “dangerous argument” that would lead to more violence.

Giving evidence at the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, Roberts dismissed a suggestion that changing the law would be better for police, because fans would not binge drink before games and arrive late, or for clubs, who could raise extra revenue.

“I don’t accept the argument at all,” he replied. “People would still drink to excess outside, but then arrive and carry on drinking. And so you’d afford them 90 minutes extra time to drink. And more alcohol causes more problems.”

He added: “You’d have that many problems, they’d have to pay for more police in stadiums to deal with the issues. You then have the issues of people throwing beer in the air, which you see all the time at Boxpark and the like. So if you’re there with the family, and every time a goal goes you get a lager shampoo, it doesn’t make it conducive to going.”

Drinking in sight of the pitch has been banned in England’s top five tiers since 1985, although it is allowed at cricket, both rugby codes, horse racing and darts. Last year the MP Tracey Crouch called for a pilot in the fourth and fifth tiers as part of her fan-led review of football governance.

But Roberts made clear he opposed the suggestion, pointing out that people spilling beer on other fans would cause more trouble – and that there was already “quite serious violence” even in the lower leagues, where there is little security, police or CCTV. “So I just think this is a really dangerous argument to suggest that we should be bringing alcohol back,” he said.

Meanwhile Peter Houghton of the Football Safety Officers Association warned of the growth of cocaine use among spectators across British sport. “In all aspects of sport there has been an increase in cocaine use,” he told MPs. “A good friend of mine in Cambridge United said when he checked the gents toilets after the match it looked like a laundrette, there was that much powder everywhere.

“Violence at football has always been synonymous with alcohol. But it’s becoming abundantly clear that it’s not just a football issue. It’s widespread throughout different sports. And you’re not just pointing the finger at alcohol users, but drug users too.”


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