EFL Chairman calls for review on alcohol ban at football matches
Since 1985 fans have been banned from drinking alcohol within sight of the pitch
Chairman of the English Football League, Shaun Harvey, has called for a review on the blanket ban of alcohol at football matches, calling it "disproportionate".
Since 1985, football fans in the United Kingdom have not been allowed to drink alcohol in view of the pitch, despite other sports not being subject to the same rules.
In a statement released to Press Association Sport, Harvey said: "There is no doubt football has changed dramatically in the 30 plus years since the introduction of the act and to have a blanket ban on alcohol in view of the playing area remaining in 2018 is, in our view, disproportionate to today's level of risk."
Harvey is seeking a "sensible and responsible" debate on the matter with the government and local safety experts.
He pointed out that fans are allowed to drink alcohol in the concourse at football stadiums as well as at local pubs before matches, and despite this, only one arrest is made for every 25,000 match-going fans at EFL matches.
"Alongside the potential increase in disorder considerations, one of the key issues that requires further examination is the fact football is being treated inconsistently with other sports - some that occur in the same venue," said Harvey.
"The EFL would always request football is treated consistently and given the same opportunities as other sports, so the many law-abiding citizens attending matches who wish to be able to drink while posing no threat to public order are able to do so."
It is understood that Harvey's view is widely supported throughout the EFL, with one anonymous EFL spokesperson saying that the current rule is "ridiculous and clearly discriminates against football fans".
The Football Supporters' Federation is backing the campaign, with FSF 'Faircop' caseworker Amanda Jacks claiming that "the idea that football should be treated differently is "outdated and based on prejudice", but admitting that any change would require a trial period and to be monitored.
The government have taken an opposing view, though.
In a statement, a Home Office spokesperson said: "This is an important piece of public order legislation, which specifically applies to designated football matches because of football's unique public order risks.
"It provides a balance, permitting fans to enjoy alcoholic drinks in a controlled environment within concourse and hospitality areas. We are satisfied that existing legislation is necessary and appropriate."