Stadium booze threat

DONCASTER'S Keepmoat Stadium's alcohol licence is today under threat as a review was ordered after it was caught selling to under 18s for a THIRD time.

Wednesday, 3rd October 2007, 11:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd October 2007, 11:45 am

Mayor Martin Winter has launched a scathing attack on the way the site is being run by the Stadium Management Company and a review of the licence has been ordered after a test purchase operation during Doncaster Rovers' game against Cheltenham last weekend.

He spoke out in the week that it was revealed the council is to double its guarantee of the stadium's overdraft, leaving Doncaster liable for 1 million if the stadium fails. The Mayor said: "I am outraged. The selling of alcohol to young people completely undermines all I have said about stamping out underage alcohol sales in Doncaster.

He said it was now essential he took immediate steps to bring the situation under control. At an emergency meeting of the SMC yesterday he demanded immediate disciplinary action to address the situation.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He added: "It is imperative that the correct expertise is now brought in to manage, maintain and further develop this community facility for the public of Doncaster."

The stadium was caught serving underage customers at the two high-profile pop concerts featuring McFly and Bryan Adams, after a police test purchase operation. The stadium also failed a test purchase operation in March - just weeks after it opened.

Following the second failure the stadium claimed they had comprehensively reviewed their procedures to ensure the problem did not arise again.

Doncaster Police communications officer Lindsay Rust said: "Doncaster Police's licensing department work closely with venues in Doncaster and routinely undertake test purchase operations and follow the procedures based on these results.

"Following a recent test purchase operation failure, a Doncaster venue has been taken into the licensing review process and will attend a licensing committee hearing, which will discuss ways of preventing further failed test purchases. The venue is working with Doncaster Police's licensing department."

A statement from the Stadium Management Company, the board that administers the day-to-day running of the Keepmoat, said: "We took the decision to voluntarily suspend alcohol sales at the Doncaster Rovers FC games between Walsall FC and Huddersfield Town FC.

"This decision has been taken following close consultation with South Yorkshire Police and Trading Standards and will allow us a period of review and to fully implement a number of further measures that will move to address issues surrounding the sale of alcohol at the stadium.

"Underage drinking is an issue that we take extremely seriously and are 100 per cent committed to tackling at our venue. Major steps are being taken that include installing new barrier systems and specially trained security staff to ensure anyone who tries to break the rules will in future be unable to do so."

Rovers director Andy Liney, who also prowls the pitch as club mascot Donny Dog, said: "It would be a real shame if fans couldn't get a drink at the match. I think this is symptomatic of the difficulties the SMC are experiencing overall. Nothing's going particularly well for them and if they lose the licence it's certainly not going to help their business plan.

"As a Rovers director I decided to stop attending meetings with the SMC back in January, less than a month after the stadium opened. I didn't feel they were delivering on promises they'd made."

Earlier this week The Star revealed the Keepmoat had lost nearly a million pounds in its first six months of operation."