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
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.