SPFL and SFA release 'enormous consequences' statement as Celtic await government process

By John McGinley

November 19, 2022

The SPFL and Scottish FA have responded in strong terms to the Scottish Government’s consultation on restricting alcohol advertising and promotion, potentially impacting sponsorship across football in Scotland.

As we discussed yesterday, the government are looking into banning the advertising of alcohol at sporting events – extending to on-kit sponsorship and other club-related activities.

Celtic, as it stands, would be one of the clubs impacted with cider brand Magners still serving as one of the Bhoys’ ‘principal partners’ and featuring prominently on the back of the kit.

Photo by Jeff Holmes/Getty Images

As the club await the outcome of the consultation process, which runs until next March, the SFA and SPFL have moved quickly to set out their opposition to it all, releasing a joint statement.

Neil Doncaster, SPFL Chief Executive said: “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.”

Meanwhile, Ian Maxwell, Scottish FA Chief Executive stated: “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.”

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Clearly, this is a complicated issue and a range of opinions will be given consideration in the consultation.

The Scottish Government believe that by restricting alcohol marketing in Scotland, they can reduce the appeal of alcohol to younger generations as well as reduce the potential triggering effect that alcohol marketing can have on heavy drinkers and those in recovery or treatment.

There’s a long way to run on this and no doubt Celtic will be evaluating the situation closely given it has implications for the club. Is it time to seek sponsorship from other industries? That’s a question many will be asking now.

In other news, Frank Lampard shares Ange Postecoglou admiration as Everton prepare for ‘really important’ Celtic test.