Simon Clegg

Poll: Blues chief calling for changes in drink laws

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
5.12 PM

THE chief executive of the Super Blues has written to the Football Association in hopes of seeing “outdated” laws over the restriction of pitchside drinking relaxed.

In a letter to FA chairman David Bernstein, Simon Clegg, chief executive of Ipswich Town Football Club, has urged the association to consider allowing restrictions to be on a local basis rather than a national blanket ban.

Mr Clegg has encouraged the FA and associated organisations to take “a leap of faith” by amending the Sporting Events Act of 1985.

In the letter he argues that the Act was enforced as a direct result of the hooliganism of the 1980s and he believes English football has progressed massively in the past 30 years.

“Without being complacent, the attitudes and behaviour of English football fans today represents an example for the rest of the world to follow,” Mr Clegg writes.

In the letter, he claims “the time is right to review the current restrictions”, and proposes the idea of local Safety Advisory Groups making decisions over alcohol restrictions.

The group would include representatives from the local police force and could make decisions on a match-to-match basis, taking into account behaviour records of each set of fans, police intelligence and local conditions.

He adds: “From an individual club perspective, I can assure you that we would welcome a change in the law that would enable supporters to once again enjoy alcohol in the ground, albeit with plastic cups or bottles, which in turn would greatly add to the atmosphere, at a time of falling gates, and enhance the overall experience of the football fan.”

The letter, which was written in October, is understood to have received the support of many Championship chief executives and chairmen following a meeting during the same month.

Mr Clegg believes Portman Road would be the ideal setting to test the initiative, with statistics from the Home Office revealing that during the 2010/11 season the club imposed just two banning orders. Within that season only 20 people were arrested.