THE NEW owner of Hibernian FC has called for a 40-year ban on the sale of alcohol in Scottish football stadiums to be lifted.

Entrepreneur Ron Gordon bought the club in Leith, Edinburgh, last summer and is the majority shareholder.

He unveiled ambitious plans to double the Easter Road club’s turnover by 2025. But the US-based businessman believes Scottish football fans should be trusted to consume booze at matches.

The ban was initially imposed following a riot at the 1980 Scottish Cup final between Rangers and Celtic after the Parkhead side clinched the trophy, sparking shocking scenes which were broadcast around the world.

In October 2018, the Scottish Football Association, Police Scotland and Scottish Government officials met to explore the idea of using the EURO 2020 matches at Hampden Park in Glasgow as a pilot. As it stands, Glasgow would be the only one of 12 host cities where fans could not buy alcohol in the stadium.

But Mr Gordon believes football clubs should have responsibility to ‘police’ matchday boozing - and described it as ‘a penalty on football’. And he insisted he did not want to see ‘trouble and bad behaviour’ from Hibees.

Mr Gordon said: “The fact that we can’t sell beer is a major thing. They’re allowed in England, the United States, at rugby matches - pretty much everywhere else. It’s essentially a penalty on football.

“I don’t know what the best way to approach it is, but it’s on my list to see how we can move that. The clubs have a responsibility to see how they can police that and themselves, but they should be given a chance to get back to that.

“But the last thing we want is trouble and bad behaviour, which unfortunately happens with alcohol. England had the ban before but have been able to grow out of it and I don’t see any reason why we can’t get the opportunity to grow out of it in Scotland.

“I’d love it to be trialled. It’s a big revenue stream. If we could do more, that would be phenomenal. But we’d have to get the league behind it and the government to give us a shot. I don’t know the mechanics but that would be good. In a healthy way it can be part of the experience.”

Under the current ban, no alcohol can be served in football stadiums, although there is an exemption for corporate hospitality areas.

Any change in Scotland would require government legislation.

European football governing body Uefa has relaxed its own rules on the sale of alcohol during its competitions, meaning the 12 cities that will stage matches can now sell alcohol if local laws allow it.

Hampden is due to stage three group stage games and one last-16 match.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We work with a wide range of organisations to ensure football fans enjoy our national sport in a safe, enjoyable environment. Decisions are informed by police and other key partners and there are no plans to remove the existing restrictions on alcohol at football matches.”

Police Scotland and the SFA have been approached for comment.