The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has branded the decision to hold an Old Firm fixture on Hogmanay as ‘senseless’ and ‘outrageous’ and has called for the game to be moved to the 2-3 January.
The timing of the Celtic and Rangers football match on one of the busiest days of the year for the on trade, was slammed by SLTA Chief Executive Paul Waterson, who said, “There are the obvious concerns; a far longer period for drinking and emergency services being subjected to extra pressure at an already busy time.”
He continued, “Have those involved in this decision taken into account the fact that Police Scotland reported that the number of calls concerning domestic abuse cases almost doubled on the day the teams met in their Scottish Cup semi-final match earlier this year?
“Does no one remember Police Scotland’s campaign last year during the festive season to reduce the number of domestic incidents during the festive period, “a time when domestic violence is at it’s highest?
“It would seem not as both issues will now be drawn together by the staging of a Rangers v Celtic game on Hogmanay.
“Our pubs and bars will as always have a responsibility of controlling drinking within their premises, but who is going to control unsupervised home drinking and drinking in the street, particularly on a day such as Hogmanay?”
The SLTA also questioned why the Glasgow Licensing Board recently refused to grant Oktoberfest a liquor license, following a complaint about violence, drunkenness and disorder at a previous event in 2015, but the Old Firm match had not raised similar concerns.
Regarding the decision, Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins, has previously commented, “The time and date of the next Old Firm fixture was decided after discussions between ourselves, football authorities and broadcasters.
“We believe this is the best option in terms of the needs of the interested parties and minimising the wider community impact.”