Alcohol banned

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MASERU — The consumption of alcohol at all Vodacom Premier League matches has been banned with immediate effect following the violent conduct that has marred the game in the past month.

Beer bottles and cans were used as missiles during the violence that broke out between rival supporters in the high-profile match pitting Matlama against Lioli at Pitso Ground last month.

The ban came a day after crowd trouble again forced the abandonment of the league fixture between Rovers and Matlama on Saturday.

The decision was reached at the Premier League Chairman’s Forum on Sunday.

Premier League chairman Tlholo Letete confirmed the alcohol ban, but would not say how the measure will be policed.

Most grounds used for premiership matches have no perimeter fences, making it difficult for security checks.

“The Chairman’s Forum has resolved that alcohol will no longer be permitted at football grounds,” Letete told the Lesotho Times yesterday.

“Alcohol in bottles or cans will not be allowed . . . only in the stomach.”

Letete said the Premier League would have monitors at matches to check if the new decree is being followed.

“There were one or two clubs that opposed the move, but we felt it had to be done,” he said.

“We will have assessors at each match to see if the measures are being followed.”

The Premier League is also mulling banning the use of home venues of three of the league’s biggest crowd-pullers.

Pitso Ground and Teyateyaneng, the home grounds of Matlama and Lioli, may be banned from hosting any big games because of their poor standards.

Besides not having proper playing turf, the two grounds do not have perimeter walls or fencing.

Bantu’s ground in Mafeteng is also in danger of being barred from hosting any high-profile games for the same reasons.

If the Premier League endorses the proposal, all three sides will not be allowed to play each other at their home grounds.

The three teams are the biggest crowd pullers in Lesotho and occupy the top three positions on the Vodacom Premier League standings.

Matlama are due to host Bantu on March 13, while Lioli have home fixtures against Bantu on March 28 and Matlama on April 25 in the title run-in.

The matches are likely to be played at neutral venues to avert crowd trouble that has rocked the league in matches involving the title chasers.

The Premier League has already said the replay between Matlama and Lioli, set for March 11, will be played at the neutral Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.

“We have realised a significant increase in the number of supporters of all the sides and after the events at the Matlama-Lioli game, there is need to ensure better safety and security standards,” Letete said.

Last week Matlama were heavily fined by the Premier League for their part in the mayhem at Pitso Ground on January 24.

They were fined M4 500 and warned over the future conduct of their supporters.

Lioli’s case will be finalised today and the defending league champions are likely to be penalised as well.

The Premier League will also today rule on the outcome of the abandoned match between Rovers and Matlama.

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