Jim Murphy
The Scottish Labour leader said the no-alcohol rule reeks of "class prejudice" (Reuters)

Jim Murphy has called for an alcohol ban at Scottish football games to be overturned, claiming the rule reeks of "class prejudice".

The teetotal Scottish Labour leader spoke out against the ban, which was imposed after a riot at the 1980 Scottish Cup final between Rangers and Celtic, as he launched a public consultation into the issue.

The East Renfrewshire MP urged the authorities to stop treating football fans like "second class citizens".

"The sale of alcohol at football was banned 35 years ago. Times have changed, football has changed, the stadiums have changed; so I believe it's time we had another look at the ban and stopped treating football supporters like second class citizens," he said.

"I've already spoken to a number of club representatives and the next stage is to hold a summit with all interested parties to take this forward. I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say."

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) has backed Murphy's proposal, but the Scottish government remain opposed to the idea.

"We want this to be part of an enhanced match day experience – and we also want football fans to be treated in the same manner as other sports fans in Scotland," an SFA spokesman said.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The vast majority of football fans in Scotland are well behaved, and a credit to their clubs, but the current policy on alcohol at football grounds was introduced for good reasons and the view of the police is that it should remain in place.

"Groups offering support to victims of domestic violence also strongly support the policy remaining as it is, given the marked increase in domestic abuse incidents which has been recorded in relation to some football matches.

"Having stadiums as alcohol-free zones has helped Scottish football to become the family-friendly experience it is for so many people today, and it is important not to jeopardise or undermine that success story."

Murphy's plan come less than 90 days before the general election, with Labour expected to take heavy losses to the Scottish National Party (SNP) north of the border in May.