MOVES to introduce alcohol to Scotland's Junior football scene have been strangled the plan at birth, with new rules giving police a platform to price a club out of a licence.

Weeks after an Ayrshire Junior club became the first in Scotland granted permission to serve alcohol on its terraces, local licensing chiefs have unveiled a prohibitive new policy which effectively neuters the idea taking off.

As part of the North Ayrshire Licensing Board's plan, clubs would have to consult with Police Scotland over costs, which, if the force said was necessary, would have to be agreed before a liquor licence was granted.

Sources say the cost to a club of five officers and the same number again of mounted colleagues would run into several thousand pounds.

Junior football, which refers to the level of the game rather than the age of players and is comparable to the non-league system in England, has a significant following in Ayrshire with some local derbies attracting crowds of thousands.

Experts in liquor law said the policy was likely to be adopted by the other two licensing boards within Ayrshire.

Last month Irvine Meadow were granted permission by North Ayrshire's board for a beer tent which would have allowed supporters to drinbk within the stand areas in the run-up to a Friday night local derby game.

Although there was no police objection, Irvine Meadow later scrapped their plans, with chairman Robert Jeffrey claiming the club "decided that it wasn’t worth it".

At a licensing hearing this week Police Scotland said it did not have sufficient time to make a proper objection, with the board then voting through what is understood to be the country's first policy around Junior Football and alcohol.

The laws around the issue differ from those applicable to the senior game, which would require new legislation at Holyrood.

Key points include keeping the sale of alcohol to a designated area and only permitting it the hour immediately before and after the match, with young people and children excluded.

A submission is required a fortnight before the licence is required to give the police sufficient time to prepare an objection, with all alcohol served in plastic containers.

Crucially, under the headline 'Police Costs' it states: "If felt necessary by Police Scotland, the club should agree all policing costs prior to the grant of a licence."

Leading licensing lawyer Stephen McGowan, who attended the meeting, said: "The conditions should put off most junior clubs going for a licence. A legal obligation to meet police costs, on top of staffing costs, would probably mean running any bar at a loss, and as it is in the hands of the police to decide what level of resource is needed to police a particular fixture, the police can price a club out of their licence.

“In the absence of similar policies elsewhere, applications for Juniors matches would be treated on their own merits, but now that North Ayrshire have this in place other licensing boards, especially in the greater Ayrshire diaspora, may follow suit."

A North Ayrshire Council spokesman said: “This is an issue which has been under discussion for some time with the police, the clubs, the health board and the Scottish Junior Football Association.

“Due to difficulties in scheduling matches, clubs have sometimes found it difficult to apply for Occasional Licences, leading to concerns over unauthorised sale of alcohol.

“The policy provides greater structure and a smoother process for those applying for Occasional Licences."

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the policy decision taken by North Ayrshire Council."