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Sunday, 21 February 2016

Kicking off good style

According to Carlsberg UK, pubs can expect to gain at least £60 million of extra business this summer because of Euro 2016. As Carlsberg UK is sponsor of the England team and of the competition itself, you might argue that they would say that, wouldn't they? They will make 10,000 kits available to licensees across Great Britain consisting of fixture posters, planners, flags and wigs to help add to the atmosphere surrounding games. Flags and wigs? Isn't that football as playschool? When, for instance, Star Trek fans dress as their favourite characters, they are generally mocked, but when sports fans dress stupidly and paint their faces, it is somehow depicted as endearingly loyal and, when national teams are involved, patriotic.

David Scott, director of brands and insight (yes, really) at Carlsberg UK, said: “We know that 75% of pub goers watch football, presenting publicans with the perfect opportunity to engage existing customers and draw new ones in." Before accepting that unexpectedly high statistic, I'd want to see the supporting evidence. Or, to put it another, way, I frankly don't believe it.

In recent years, I have known several licensees who have taken out Sky Sports because they do not pay their way, and came across yet another last week. I'm certain that some of those who have kept it will be making a loss, but continue to provide it as a service for their regular customers. Licensees with Sky Sports have told me that many of the crowds that come in for football may have one or two pints during the entire match, with many vanishing as soon as the final whistle is blown. There are, of course, customers like myself who, faced with a noisy crowd of cheering, shouting and swearing men (they are mostly men) will turn around and go elsewhere.

Sport is not as popular as devotees (and Sky Sports) like to claim. Apart from big name events such as Wimbledon, the Cup Final and the Grand National, the ratings on terrestrial TV for sports events isn't spectacular, and they are often beaten by dramas and soaps. Despite this, we are fed the myth that we all love sports. I'm from Liverpool, home of Liverpool and Everton FCs and the Grand National, but I know many people whose interest in sport, although perhaps not quite as non-existent as mine, is certainly only passing rather than devoted.

At least those Sky Sports banners act as a warning to those who don't get excited by what is, essentially, the simplest sport on the planet. I find cricket boring, but it does have something more to it than simply: "Kick that ball into that net."

I shan't be watching Euro 2016, but then - like a lot of people - the only enticements I need to go to the pub are good company and good beer.


  1. Tend to agree. I like sport in particular football but if I see a pub with sky sports I will avoid. I think some of the national spots events in pubs can be good fun including euros and World Cup games but most domestic football matches and the like will alienate many times more people than they attract. As you say all you really need for a great pub is good beer and good company.

  2. I didn't know there was a football tournament this Summer but I shall do what I always do when I see the outside of a pub festooned with St George's flags, Union Jacks and bunting, I shall go somewhere else.

  3. I feel the same way about amateurs inflicting their dreadful live music on me in pubs as you do about football

  4. Watching the footie in pubs used to be the cheap option, but pubs are a proper rip off these days. Much better to watch at home with a slab of cheap lout.

  5. I don't find World Cup or Euro matches involving countries other than England to be much of a problem in pubs, tbh.

    I think you out-grump me on this subject ;-)

  6. Oh Anonymous you've just hit a nerve. Had to leave a very well known pub in west Lancashire a couple of years ago before finishing our meal because it was invaded by "musicians" who didn't know the end of any song they attempted to play once they had passed the chorus. To make matters worse they were joined by a group of ukulele players who took all the seats from other tables in order to sit together and then "accompanied" the guitars and singers.
    On leaving I asked what nights they played so I could avoid that night in the future.
    I don't have a problem with pre advertised semi professional musicians or buying a ticket for a "music night", but I really can do without having to listen to people who were unable to sing in tune or finish a song when all I want is a quiet meal!

  7. I strongly believe that singers and musicians, whatever their professional status, have a duty not to prat about and to put on as good a show as they can. Self-indulgence is unacceptable: do that at home if you must.

  8. The removal of Sky Sports from a pub isn't always just about the cost to the licensee: my former local got rid of it at the same time that they knocked through from the lounge to the vault, took down the dartboard and started serving hot food, all part of a plan to drive out the working-class drinkers.


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