GFH Capital should think twice before outlawing alcohol at Elland Road
Alcohol is as an integral part of football in Britain as goal posts, penalty shoot-outs and the offside rule.
Consumption at matches is strictly regulated (you’re not allowed a drink in sight of the pitch) and stewards are on-hand to boot you out if they think you’ve had one too many. Overall though, it can add to the jovial and good natured atmosphere of the beautiful game.
It seems not in keeping with the spirit of football then that GFH Capital, the Dubai-based owner of Championship side Leeds Utd, is reportedly looking to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages at the team’s Elland Road stadium.
If the Daily Mail is to be believed, GFH Capital director Salem Patel is behind this push, due to his strongly held Islamic beliefs. Apparently he has met strong resistance from other members of the Leeds Utd board. This will likely be nothing compared to the backlash he gets from fans if he pursues this policy.
Like the city itself, fans of Leeds Utd are a multicultural bunch who hold a myriad of different faiths and values, and are free to choose whether they want to buy a pre-match pint or not. The club’s owners should not be making this choice for them.
If GFH Capital did not want to be involved in a business whose revenue is supported by alcohol receipts, it should not have invested in the side in the first place. Any insistence on prohibition now would be doubly odd as GFH Capital has recently sold on much of its shareholding in Leeds Utd, raising questions about its long-term commitment.
Leeds Utd’s owners should forget about alcohol and focus on much more pressing matters at the club, such as ending this famous side’s ten-year exile from the Premier League.