download All Football App

Full strength beer at England vs Serbia AXED and replaced by low alcohol shandy

  /  autty

ENGLAND fans have been rocked by a weak beer blow as police issued a last minute warning of serious trouble at The Three Lions first Euros game.

Security concerns were ramped up from “high” to “very high risk” for the curtain raiser clash with Serbia - where 500 hard core Serb yobs are now expected.

And a crackdown has forced officials to reduce the strength of beer in Gelsenkirchen’s 62,000-seat Veltins Arena for Sunday’s crucial opening group game.

Three lions fans had been looking forward to quaffing 4.8 per cent strength Bitburger in stadium bars but the brew will now be replaced by a weaker alternative.

The Three Lions’s curtain raiser is the only group game where fans will now be served a maximum of two pints at a time of a 2.5 per cent “Radler-style” beer.

It was unclear last night which low-strength Bitburger version would be on offer as the German firm has a 2.5 per cent “Radler” lemonade shandy and a 2.8 per cent Bitburger Light.

Concerns have suddenly spiralled after German police intelligence warned organised gangs of Serb thugs were converging on the game and could clash with boozy English followers.

Worries were amplified by a UEFA ban on segregation in the stadium - putting rival fans next to each other in mixed seating.

Gelsenkirchen police spokesperson Stephan Knipp told The Sun: “Beer sold in the stadium for England v Serbia will be low alcohol, a 2.5% Bitburger.

“This is a commitment between the police and UEFA.

“It is just the England game which will have the low-strength beer. The other games at the stadium will have 4.8% beer.”

England fans will also find themselves subjected to a last minute booze ban in the centre of Gelsenkirchen before England’s campaign kicks off at 8pm UK time.

Mr Knipp said: “Fans are not allowed to drink alcohol in the city's main square, Heinrich-Konig-Platz.

“An England fan with a can or bottle of beer in the square will be asked to put it away, or it will be taken away from them. They will not immediately be arrested.

“The square will be a fan zone for other games in the city - but not for England.

“Fans can however drink alcohol in the city's bars, and in a fan zone for England fans at the racecourse in the south of the city.

“Serbia fans will have their own fan zone in the north of the city.”

Another police source said: “The beer in the stadium will be the same per cent as a Radler made with sparkling lemonade - which I think you English call shandy.

“There is growing concern that the Serbs will bring a determined group of troublemakers and that the English will be much more likely to fight them if they are drunk.

“Beer sold in Germany is already quite a bit stronger than lager sold in the UK and authorities are trying to reduce the risk.

“There seems to be serious concern now about disorder.”

Stadium bosses said yesterday that the proper pint ban had nothing to do with them as they had handed bar sale rights to UEFA tournament chiefs.

Fans of German club side FC Schalke 04 are normally sold 4.8 per cent Veltins Pilsener home games, shifting an average of 52,800 pints at each match.

But sales are likely to be far lower once thirsty England fans get their first taste of the less potent - and less popular - Bitburger brew.

Crowd control worries followed a UEFA ruling that barriers separating opposing fans should be removed.

Fans - and possibly drunken hooligans - will rub shoulders in large section of the stands where two-thirds of tickets going will be mixed.

Chief Inspector Christof Burghardt: "I think it's a very high-risk game because of the history, because of the hooligans both sides have.

"Serbia has many hooligans. The English guys, with alcohol, they are sometimes very aggressive.

“So it's a great job to do this, to prepare, so that hopefully nothing will happen."

German police believe a posse of up to 500 Serbian hooligans - including pro-Putin fanatics - could launch attacks at at the England game.

England’s last Euros opener abroad was in 2016 when highly-organised Russian savages - believed to be state sponsored - put scores of England fans in hospital in Marseille.

Stone-cold sober Russian hardmen tore into English fans as they enjoyed pints in the sunshine - and German authorities appear a repeat of the appalling violence.

Peter Both, the chief of police in Gelsenkirchen, cops would attempt to intercept Serb gang before they can confront the English in Gelsenkirchen.

An estimated 40,000 English fans are expected to travel to the game along with 5,000 to 8,000 Serbs plus more from Serbian communities in Germany.

Both said he believed “up to 400 or 500 violence-seeking Serbian hooligans will travel to Germany, but added: “we don’t know it exactly and so that’s our problem at the moment”.

He said: “I guess the biggest challenge for us will be to identify violent, disruptive groups at an early stage, to separate them from peaceful and law-abiding fans.”

More than 1,000 German police officers will be on duty on Sunday, supported by hooligan spotters and a riot unit, although Both said water cannon would not be deployed.

More than 1,600 fans from England with football banning orders have been forced to surrender their passports to the police from June 4 until the final on July 14.

Both said German police had “brilliant” cooperation with the UK authorities and that many known hooligans from England would be blocked from travelling.

But he warned his officers “had to expect that a few of them will be here in Germany, I’m absolutely convinced”.

Gareth Southgate’s squad were put through their paces for the first time since their arrival in Germany yesterday - with all eyes on superstars Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham.

Around 200 local fans turned to out to see the stars at their first open training session at Jena Stadium in eastern Germany.

Champions League-winning wonderkid Bellingham, 20, smiled and waves to the cheering throng as he limbered up alongside Bayern Munich goal machine Harry, 30.

Fans watching included lifelong England fan Reinhard Lisker, 66, from Jena who unfurled an Everton banner alongside wife, son and grandson.

German Reinhard said: “I grew up as a boy in the old East Germany and we always supported whichever team played against West Germany in those days.

“So I became an Egland fan the day they won the World Cup in 1966 and have never looked back.

“I’m proud to wear my England shirt today alongside my family, who all support Gareth Southgate’s team and it’s a thrill to see them in my home town.

“I’m a member of the England supporter’s club - I’ve been to 15 games - and also a fan of Everton who I've seen 142 times.

“We have Everton’s own Jordan Pickford in goal but Foden, Bellingham and Kane are all incredible players - we have a great chance.”

German student Robin Jeuth, 20, from Jena said: “I’m here to see Harry Kane because I’m a Bayern fan but it’s also great to get up close to stars like Bellingham.

“Bellingham is the best midfielder in the world and you have a strong squad but we Germans will win it with home advantage.”