Lifting football’s 36-year ban on fans farming the foam during matches
Friday’s news that the ban on fans guzzling amber pints of foaming shaft and other forms of electric soup in the stands at football matches could soon be lifted prompted an array of predictable responses on social media disgraces. First out of the traps were the Fun Police, that body of self-appointed moral guardians who believe that because they feel no compulsion to enjoy a bevvy while enjoying themselves at the football, any other grown adults who do are obviously some sort of anti-social dipsomaniac who should consider hot-footing it to their local branch of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Others tut-tutted for different reasons, pointing out that giving people free rein to get their booze on either side of half-time during matches would lead to scenes of extreme drunkenness and the kind of loutish anti-social behaviour of a kind not seen since … ah, the Not Euro 2020 final at Wembley, where fans were not allowed to drink in their own or whoever else’s seats they happened to be in but a good number somehow managed to have an astronomical blood alcohol level anyway. Other more sensible folk welcomed the news, even if the sale of ale for the duration of matches means more time spent away from the game either getting the drinks in or at the toilets, causing all manner of inconvenience to fellow fans who have to stand up and let you scooch past as you go about your business. Then there were fans of teams from the fifth tier downwards, long trusted to drink during games and shocked to learn that those in divisions above are not afforded the same courtesy.
Lifting football’s 36-year ban on fans farming the foam during matches is expected to be among the key recommendations of Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review next month, a wheeze in which the MP will push for a pilot scheme to keep the shutters up and the bar-staff at National League and League Two clubs busy manning the pumps for the duration of games. All going well, it would subsequently be extended to the divisions above, where clubs are not as reliant on bar receipts to keep their heads above water. “Take a club like Dulwich Hamlet, in National League South,” Crouch told the Times. “Its revenue is generated through its refreshments. If it gets promoted to the National League Premier [which operates under the alcohol ban], it effectively stops generating that revenue during a game. They said openly in evidence to us that they cannot afford to get promoted because of the rules around alcohol.”
While The Fiver has no strong feelings either way on the alcohol ban because there are far more pressing fan concerns which need to be addressed, if we were to write a strong polemic on the subject, we’d probably come down on the side of any development that helps eliminate nanny-statism and allows grown adults to have a beer if they feel like having a beer. The Fiver has been to – and been drunk at – enough football matches to know that drinkers are gonna drink and if they wish to glug to the point where their knees buckle and they can no longer see, they will do exactly that whether or not the bar is open from first to final whistle. Now pardon us as we oil our beard and make our way to Champion Hill, purveyors of the finest modestly priced triple-brewed and oak-aged 26% Moldovan chocolate and peanut butter stout suffused with fennel your favourite daily football email has ever imbibed.