THE Scottish Government is facing more criticism from the body representing the legal profession, this time over proposals that would give police blanket powers over alcohol sales.

The Law Society of Scotland has already attacked Government plans to close courts, changes to legal aid and proposals to overturn the legal principle of corroboration.

Now the body has spoken out against recommendations by ministers to give police powers to shut premises selling alcohol near football stadiums when games are due to take place.

It said extending powers would unfairly discriminate against a large section of the population, could even impact upon weddings and are unnecessary.

Capital licensing chiefs have also rejected the plans to extend certain areas of the 2005 Licensing Act, while lobbyists representing major supermarkets said there was no causal link between where alcohol is sold and where disorder occurs.

The Wines and Spirits Trades Association (WSTA) said there was a risk match-day alcohol bans could become permanent fixtures and prevent trade more than 30 days a year in areas without any previous crowd trouble.

However, Alcohol Focus Scotland said it was a proportionate response.

The group, largely funded by the Government, said such a move would have only a small impact on the number of licensing hours operated by premises . It supported moves to give councils more powers to limit opening hours on match days and said corporate hospitality and directors' boxes should also be included in alcohol restrictions.

The Scottish Government's consultation on amending the Act closed last month.

Areas that could be tightened include discounts on buying alcohol online from England-based suppliers, having sellers pass an English test, giving police additional powers to flag up concerns about individuals in the trade, and changing the law to stop adults escaping prosecution if they buy alcohol for children.

However, as well as giving councils legal backing to make changes to how alcohol is sold across entire neighbourhoods, they could also have powers to shut pubs around grounds if they believe there could be disorder associated with the match.

Legal sources claimed the push around the match-day pub openings is being driven in part by the Government's desire to have something else to show from its Joint Action Group on football, set up following the Old Firm "shame game" in early 2011.

The Herald revealed last month that, despite proposals to extend police powers, Strathclyde Police never once made a request to licensing chiefs in Glasgow for a temporary closure order, which the law allows.

In its submission, the Law Society said: "We consider these proposals would unfairly discriminate against a large section of the population such as football fans and premise licence holders serving those fans in what may be considered to be well-run premises, as well as those who have no connection with football such as supermarket off-sales and wedding venues and so on.

"Licensing boards already have extensive powers to review the licences of problem premises and these are utilised successfully across the country. It is understood publicans will in any event close premises on big match days if requested to do so by the police."

The WSTA said: "There is nothing in these proposals to prevent sports fans from consuming alcohol before arriving at a venue or bringing alcohol with them."

But Alcohol Focus Scotland said: "The proposed restrictions are likely to represent a small percentage of the total operating hours of most if not all of the licensed premises affected."

The Scottish Government said it was considering all responses and would publish its findings in due course.