Analysis of Committee Recommendations on Alcohol and Sport
Alcohol sales in sporting venues?
Bar at Aviva StadiumWhat are the benefits on tighter control of the sale of alcohol at sporting venues?
This week the Oireachtas Committee investigating a proposed ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport  ruled against the merit of a ban, suggesting a number of alternative measures in its place.
Day by day we will consider each of those recommendations, the basis on which it is made, how it might be put into practice and how it might have been put in place elsewhere around the world.
Today: A Code of Practice for the consumption of alcohol within stadia should be drawn- up by all sporting organisations.

In the early days of the redevelopment of Croke Park, the sale of alcohol was restricted to those at the box or corporate level.  In 2005 however the stadium opened up a total of eleven bars around the ground making the sale of alcohol much easier.
At the Aviva stadium the number of outlets is greater but it used to be only at rugby internationals where you could buy alcohol.
Restrictions on the sale of alcohol at soccer matches dated back to crowd trouble in the 1980’s and 1990’s though a blanket ban on the sale of alcohol at soccer grounds in the Premier League has now been relaxed albeit for consumption in concourse areas as opposed to in seats watching the game.
Fifa forced Brazilian authorities to allow the sale of alcohol at next year’s World Cup games and the mood in international venues is swinging back from the outright bans that once held sway.
The Committee recommendations will seek to introduce a uniform code of practice to be adopted in all Irish sporting venues.  If this follows the FIFA model of banning the sale of alcohol then it will likely only have the impact of boosting trade at pubs in and around the grounds and causing more late arrivals at the stadium by fans.
A survey carried out in the United States in 2006 presents an interesting snapshot of the different ways in which 66 professional sports facilities managed the issue.
All permitted the sale of alcohol with 100% selling beer, 97% selling win and 89% selling spirits. All bar one of the stadia had a formal policy on alcohol but only 66% made servers aware of this both at time of hire and at regular training update sessions.
98% required serving staff to check for age verification on customers who appeared to be under the age of 30 and the same proportion imposed a two drink limit on each sale.
The numbers began to fall in other areas which may be considered though with 34% having no policy on preventing intoxicated patrons from entering the stadium, 51% allowing people under the legal drinking age of 21 to serve alcohol and only 39% having designated alcohol free areas.
The difference in scale and the rich mix between high end venues and local clubs will present a challenge in putting forward one uniform policy across all sporting venues but it is hoped that common sense will prevail with regard to the imposition of restrictions on clubs that may be hard pressed to afford the implementation of any physical changes that may be required to a venue.
Drinking on the way to or from a sporting event is an international experience not just limited to Ireland.  Going to a game at Yankee Stadium or Wembley will have as much of an alcohol feel to it as this weekend’s Leinster Hurling Final or the Lions test in Australia.
There will also need to be a sense that the ‘code of practice’ being suggested will be based on adherence rather than aspiration as to leave a gap there would serve neither side well.
Catch up with the rest of this series
Day One: Sponsorship by the Alcohol Drinks Industry should remain in place until such time as it can be replaced by other identifiable streams of comparable funding.
Today: A Code of Practice for the consumption of alcohol within stadia should be drawn- up by all sporting organisations.
Monday: A fixed percentage of all sponsorship received by each and every organisation (sporting, cultural, arts, music etc.) from the alcohol drinks industry, should be ring-fenced and paid into a central fund to be administered by an appropriate body. That fund should be used exclusively for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Programmes.
Tuesday: Sponsorship of sports and sporting events should be treated in the same way as sponsorship of the arts, music and other festivals.
Wednesday: A Code should be introduced to make it mandatory for all brand owners and rights-holders to provide responsible training in selling, advertising and marketing and to promote responsible drinking at all sponsored events.
Thursday: All sporting organisations should be encouraged to support programmes which contribute to social inclusion in order to reduce the abuse of alcohol, particularly among young people.
Friday: A prohibition on sponsorship by the alcohol industry should only be considered if it is done on a pan-European basis in order to ensure that Irish sports and sporting organisations are not operating at a disadvantage relative to their international competitors.
The Committee report can be downloaded here
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