There are so many reasons to avoid the Football League. High ticket prices are just one. Now there is another.
Cambridge United are implementing a scheme whereby stewards at the ground can administer a breath test and should you be deemed as having too much to drink (twice the legal driving limit allegedly) then entry will be refused. This is all quite lawful, a football ground has “conditions of entry” which require you to agree with before you enter. A refusal to comply with a steward would quite reasonably mean you were banned entry.
You would be forgiven then for thinking Cambridge United has a problem with alcohol related offences and this is a response to that. You would be wrong though. It is reported that last year Cambridge United had 8 arrests at home games and 8 at away games. Out of those 16, only 3 were alcohol related and its not even clear if all or any of those were at Cambridge. But even if they were, 3 alcohol related arrests in a year? The average attendance at home games is 5000+.
The officer involved in this scheme (Ian Wood) is reported as saying
My concern is that fans will be unaware of these offences and I hope that the introduction of the devices will help stewards make empowered decisions about who should enter the ground and educate fans about the ramifications of being drunk at sporting events. We accept that a responsible fan may consume a moderate amount of alcohol before a game, however, we are focusing on the overly-intoxicated people who are most likely to become problematic during or after the game.
So are we saying 3 offenses are worthy of this scheme? If Ian Wood is suggesting that they are focussing on this small number, why doesn’t he actually deal with the offences with the provision in law that he eludes to in his statement, rather than giving a steward a breath test kit?
This to me doesn’t sound like a proactive operation targeting an area of concern (three offences apparently) this sounds to me like a tick in the box exercise for those implementing the “scheme”, either for an appraisal or promotion application, because if this Sgt sees 3 offences in a year as being problematic at a football ground, then he should spend some time in any city centre on a Friday night. He will find much more to deal with there.
It also raises the question, is Cambridge United selling alcohol in their grounds whilst this initiative is going on?
The FA has reportedly refused to comment and I don’t blame them at all. It’s a farce. A farce at the expense of the tax-payer and makes unfair implication about Cambridge United fans, who are shown by the figures released to be attending matches and responsibly enjoying themselves.