Scottish football’s leading bodies have warned of the significant unintended consequences of a potential ban on alcohol brand sponsorships for all sports as the Scottish Government begins its consultation Restricting Alcohol Advertising and Promotion.
The Scottish FA and Scottish Professional Football League will contribute to the consultation process, and encourage clubs, other sporting and event bodies, and supporters to do likewise.
This is to ensure the findings are based on fact, and include the potential multi-million pound cost to the national game – and the entertainment industry as a whole -in Scotland.
Warning that implementation of an alcohol sponsorship ban could jeopardise the potential hosting of major events, such as UEFA EURO 2028 and UEFA Club Competition finals, as well as other global sporting and entertainment events in Scotland, the Scottish FA and SPFL Chief Executives, Ian Maxwell and Neil Doncaster, believe sports should unite to reinforce the positive steps undertaken to ensure a responsible approach to alcohol consumption.
Ian Maxwell, Scottish FA Chief Executive:
“Scottish football is already restricted by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980, which for more than 40 years has prohibited the sale of alcohol within football grounds.
“As a consequence, we cannot control consumption levels that take place outside of the stadium bowl and thus cannot be part of a data-led solution.
“We will contribute to the consultation to ensure a fact-based approach and to highlight the consequences of any legislation being imposed, not just financially, but in potentially being precluded from bidding for major football events, as well as other world-class, international sporting events where alcohol partnerships are an integral part of a diverse sponsorship portfolio.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the national game remains supportive of responsible drinking campaigns, especially aimed at harmful drinkers, and will continue to use the power of football to promote that responsibility for the benefit of all concerned.”
Neil Doncaster, SPFL Chief Executive:
“We will take time to consider these proposals in far greater detail and respond in due course, but even at an initial stage, it is clear that the sporting, social and financial implications could be extremely grave.
“Sport worldwide depends to a very great degree on sponsorship, and drinks companies have a long and supportive history in the Scottish game.
“Their valuable financial contribution is hugely important to the wellbeing of our sport and its ability to support a range of social benefits.
“To remove that revenue stream, at a time when we are experiencing the most significant economic challenges for a generation, could have huge implications for clubs and Scottish sport more generally.
“Over recent years, Scottish football has made enormous strides, leading the charge in promoting responsible drinking, which should not be regarded as an inherent evil, but something that the vast majority of the adult population enjoy in moderation.
“That said, the Scottish Government’s initial proposals raise a number of very profound questions.
“To consider just one example, if the government enforces a blanket ban on alcohol advertising in Scottish football stadia, there could be enormous consequences for all Scottish clubs playing in Europe, where brewers such as Heineken are at the centre of UEFA’s family of sponsors.”