Pubs across England gearing up to open early, as the Lionesses bid for World Cup glory, could be thwarted by red tape.
The World Cup Final
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has written to councils across England to do everything they can to help venues seeking to extend their hours for the game. He said, “I’ve asked councils to do everything they can to help pubs get open earlier on Sunday, so people can come together and enjoy a drink before kick-off for this special occasion.”
“The whole nation is ready to get behind the Lionesses this Sunday in what is England’s biggest game since 1966” Gove continued.
The Home Office has written to police chiefs encouraging them to work with councils to ensure as many venues as possible can open.
However, councils are unable to grant extensions to pubs that failed to apply by August 11 – when England had not even won their quarter-final tie. Pub bosses have warned that licensing rules mean some venues will be unable to serve pints or open early for excited fans on the day. Current regulations mean the sale of alcohol is widely prohibited before 10am on Sunday, but venues such as pubs also have specific hours they can stay open and serve alcohol depending on individual licenses.
The solution of a widespread change to licensing hours throughout England would necessitate the nod from Parliament. However, Parliament is currently on recess making any chance of an emergency recall are unlikely. Instead, the Government is urging local councils and police chiefs to do what they can to approve extensions.
Importance of the Final
A Local Government Association spokesperson said: “Councils up and down the country are flying flags, lighting up buildings and hosting free screenings of the game on Sunday to mark this historic and exciting occasion.” “They will be working with partners and local vendors to ensure supporters can enjoy the match safely and get behind our Lionesses.”
The Liberal Democrats have called for Rishi Sunak to recall Parliament to pass the necessary legislation, with the deputy leader Daisy Cooper saying, “This is an open goal for the Government. The Lionesses have made history by reaching the final, it’s only right that people across the country can come together and show their full support on Sunday.”
“MPs should get down to Westminster tomorrow and score a last-minute winner for our pubs and the Lionesses.”
Chris Jowsey, chief executive officer of Admiral Taverns, which runs more than 1,600 pubs, said: “We urge the Prime Minister to allow pubs to open at 10am on Sunday to support our Lionesses and bring communities together to cheer on the team.
“It has been inspiring to watch not only their outstanding achievements on the pitch, but the way it has brought the nation together off the pitch.”
The BBPA also called on the Government to allow all pubs to provide full service from 10am, warning that starting alcohol sales at 11am could lead to large queues and disruption as the game kicks off.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “We need the Government to step in and allow the necessary regulatory easement to allow pubs to serve the public from 10am on final day, so fans and communities can come together and cheer the Lionesses to victory at the best place to watch live sport, the pub.”
Alun Cairns MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said: “Early opening and serving would be a fitting tribute to the Lionesses and a welcome boost to the industry.”
Kate Nicholls, CEO of trade body UK Hospitality, said: “The nation will be cheering on the Lionesses on Sunday and the next best thing to being in Australia is enjoying the match in the pub or hospitality venue.
“Many are taking advantage of the fact that they can open to encourage people to come out for breakfast or brunch to get ready for this historic match. Demand from fans has been exceptional, with bookings filling rapidly, and there’s no doubt the day will be a huge boost for the sector, potentially delivering an additional £41 million in sales.”
She added: “I’d echo the Government’s support for local authorities taking a pragmatic view to venues opening early to allow people to make the most of this momentous occasion.”
Michael Gove’s initiative to permit alcohol service prior to the Women’s World Cup is a commendable step. This move not only rallies support for the Lionesses but also offers a much-needed boost to local pubs nationwide.