The Sporting Event (Control of Alcohol etc) Act 1985 created a number of offences relating to alcohol at football matches. The act also prohibited fireworks at games.
Although the legislation referred to sporting events in reality it is aimed at people attending football matches. In particular it relates to games involving national sides and also at least one club that is from the premier league, the football league, the Conference or welsh premier league. It also covers all FA cup matches regardless of the teams playing other than preliminary or qualifying round games.
Offences in connection with alcohol on trains and coaches
The act creates a number of offences in connection with alcohol being transported to and from football matches. Anyone who has alcohol in their possession whilst travelling on a coach or train that is principally being used to take people to or from a match is guilty of an offence. There are provisions relating to the operators and also those who hire vehicles. It is also an offence to be drunk on such a vehicle whether or not the person is in possession of alcohol.
These provisions also apply to minibuses in certain circumstances.
Alcohol at football games
It is an offence to enter or try to enter a ground whilst in possession of alcohol. The provisions also apply to drinks containers that are capable of causing injury to someone if they are struck with it. Anyone who is drunk at a football match or whilst trying to enter the ground is also guilty of an offence. Additionally there are restrictions that mean that it can be an offence to be in possession of alcohol in areas of ground in which the match may be seen.
Fireworks at football games
The act makes it an offence to be in possession of a firework and other articles whilst either entering the ground or being inside the ground. Fireworks, flares and other items that emit smoke or physical gas are specifically referred to together with other objects. It is a defence for a person to prove that they had the item with lawful authority.
Alcohol Football Sentencing
The offences created by The Sporting Event (Control of Alcohol etc) Act 1985 are all ones that can only be dealt with in the Magistrates Court. Whilst some of the offences are punishable by way of a maximum penalty of a fine, other offences under this act are punishable by way of up to 3 months imprisonment. These offences are also matters for which the Court must consider making a Football Banning Order if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that it would help to prevent violence or disorder at football matches (see “Football Banning Orders”).
What can you do if you are arrested or charged with an offence under The Sporting Event (Control of Alcohol etc) Act 1985?
If you are arrested or charged with an offence under this act it is essential that you seek legal advice immediately. At Olliers we have many years of experience in defending cases of this kind. It is most important that legal advice is sought at an early stage so that steps can be taken, if necessary, to preserve evidence such as CCTV footage and so that witnesses can be spoken to.