What is the position relating to the advertising of alcohol in Sport?


Alcohol advertising has been synonymous with the sporting industry for decades and has taken over from the Tobacco industry as the most heavily criticised form of advertising in the UK. It is still a form of advertising which is heavily involved with many sports throughout the UK.

For example football’s League Cup is sponsored by a beer brand as are Liverpool and Everton in the FA Premier League and Rangers and Celtic in the Scottish Premier League. The UEFA Champions League is sponsored by a beer brand as is the World Cup. It is not just football which is heavily involved with the alcohol industry with the Rugby Premiership in England also being sponsored by a notable alcoholic company.

Consumption at Sporting grounds

As many teams and competitions receive revenue through alcoholic sponsorship it is reasonable to believe that alcohol may be consumed at sporting grounds up and down the country and throughout Europe. This is the case but there are still some limitations on where this can be consumed.

For example at FA Premier League grounds up and down the country you can consume alcohol in the concourse areas of the ground but this cannot be taken into the seating area. Often fans visiting the ground in support of the away team will not be provided with alcohol. This is at the discretion of the home club.

For certain competitions for example the UEFA Champions League there is a complete blanket ban on any alcohol consumption inside any ground hosting a UEFA Champions League match.

Often the local police will also impose sanctions in relation to alcohol consumption in the stadiums surrounding areas on match day.

Is there likely to be ban on advertising alcohol at sporting fixtures?

There are many concerns currently in the UK concerning the consumption of alcohol by young people which has led to certain clubs removing the sponsor on the children’s replica shirts when the team is sponsored by an alcohol company.

Many believe that it must go further than this as those vulnerable children still continue to see the advertising in and around the stadium and on the front of the shirts worn by their favourite players.

In fact the British Medical Association has called for a blanket ban on alcoholic advertising in the sporting industry in the much the same way as the ban on tobacco advertising as they are of the opinion that this form of advertising is continuing to promote binge drinking within the UK.

However, the advertising industry has stated that the cost of a ban in this manner would be in the region of £180 million and that certain commercial damage would be felt dramatically by the media industry. In fact the UK Government Department of Culture, Media and Sport has also distanced itself on a complete ban on alcohol advertising stating that there is substantial uncertainty on the link between advertising and binge drinking.

Currently it looks unlikely as to whether a complete ban will be introduced but it is likely that more regulations will be brought in to determine the extent of alcohol advertising around sport.