St Albans City FC granted premises licence despite residents' concerns

The pitchside bar at St Albans City FC.

The pitchside bar at St Albans City FC. - Credit: SACFC

Bosses at St Albans City Football Club have been granted permission to open their bar to the public at the Clarence Park ground.

Currently the club is only allowed to operate a bar for club members and their guests. 

But the granting of a premises licence by St Albans district council means they can now sell alcohol to the public, from 10am to 11pm – seven days a week. 

As well as within the clubhouse, the club will be able to serve alcohol outside on match days if it is being played at home or being televised to an audience. 

They will also be allowed to serve alcohol outside for other events – whether for fund-raising, wedding receptions, parties or other events – on up to 20 days a year. 

Almost 100 residents had objected to the club’s application for a premises licence – pointing to the potential for public nuisance, crime, disorder and harm to children.

At a meeting of the council’s licensing sub-committee, it was suggested that the application was ‘out of proportion’ for a sports club in a park – and would turn the members’ clubhouse into a pub. 

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But ultimately the members of the sub-committee, chaired by Cllr Richard Curthoys, decided to grant the club’s application for a premises licence. 

In reaching their decision the councillors recognised the position of the club in a residential aream but they said there was no evidence to support suggestions that an increase in the hours alcohol can be sold would lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour. 

They have dismissed further concerns that it could lead to large groups meeting in the park to consume alcohol, because the licence does not allow alcohol to leave the club’s grounds.

The pitchside bar at Clarence Park.

The pitchside bar at Clarence Park. - Credit: SACFC

The decision notice states: “We recognise that the club operates in a residential area surrounded on three sides by housing. 

“We also appreciate that the football club grounds are adjacent to a park which is used by a variety of people for a variety of purposes. 

“We note that the residents consider that an increase in hours for the sale of alcohol could lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour, however, there was no evidence from the Police or Environmental Health Authority to support this. 

“The representations did not persuade us that there is a causal link between the grant of this licence for on sales at the club grounds and general anti-social behaviour in the park and nearby area."

Meanwhile, the decision notice also suggests that noise nuisance to residents would be limited, by conditions to restrict the use of the outside area at the grounds and by the route that visitors to the ground would use to leave. 

“In recognition of the residential nature of the area we have restricted the use of the outside area for the consumption of alcohol to address a potential noise disturbance.

“We consider that the conditions we have placed on the licence in relation to the public nuisance objective address the need for some controls in a residential area.” 

At the hearing club chairman and co-owner Lawrence Levy had argued that the lack of a premises licence impacted on the club’s ability to generate ‘much-needed’ income. 

He said St Albans City Football Club was the only club in its league not to have an ‘appropriate’ licence.

He catalogued the club’s community activities and said that the additional income generated as a result of a premises licence would help them to continue with the ‘good work’. 

According to the terms of the premises licence the hours the premises can be open to the public run from midnight to midnight, Monday to Sunday.

Lawrence said afterwards: "We are really pleased that the council granted the licence. We would have preferred a full, unrestricted stadium licence like many other clubs - both football and non-football - in the district, but nevertheless we are happy that the authorities recognise the importance of the club to the city and our need to generate some non-match day revenues."