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.