World Cup: profit's coming home!
By Simon Hacker | 18th August 2023
An extra bank holiday if the Lionesses come home with gold in Sunday's FIFA Women's World Cup Final may have been ruled out, but Gloucestershire's pubs and venues are limbering up to make the most of Sunday's ultimate clash.
As the government urges councils across England to allow pubs to open their doors earlier this Sunday, the fast-approaching clash against Spain is already a firm fixture for landlords looking to boost their income and bolster what has been a challenging year in the trade.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has written to all of council leaders, asking them to allow pubs that wants to open their doors to support the English Women's Football Team – but many pubs already have a free kick with licence permission to carry on regardless.
At the Star Inn in Wotton-under-Edge, landlady Lita Ralston has focussed on developing the pub's dry trade since the pandemic to complement the pub's status as the most popular drinks venue in town, but she says the success of the Lionesses has already been on the pub's radar and she is making special provision for Sunday.
Mrs Ralston said: "It's amazing how men have historically just not been interested in women's football but things have rapidly changed and we have had a lot of requests for the television coverage to be laid on.
"We are consequently dedicating all of the garden space to the event. We have to balance this against the runaway success of our Sunday roasts; I am turning 25 to 30 people away some days, but we are definitely backing the Lionesses!"
While traditional sports bars and pubs in Gloucester and Cheltenham are making their plans to cover the event, even more remote rural pubs have been thinking on their feet to capitalise on the surge in public interest.
Mark Frater, landlord of The Old Badger Inn at Eastington, said he has had to lay on two extra staff and is still looking for more.
Mr Frater said: "We've got it all covered with three TVs inside and one external and we will be open from 10.30am with a special menu addition of sausages in baps."
The timing of the game, coinciding with Sunday lunches, is posing logistic difficulties for some smaller pubs, but Mr Frater said a party atmosphere was guarrenteed with a sense of the more the merrier: "there is a sense of everyone getting behind the team - it's a great moment for summer business."
Michael Gove said: "The whole nation is ready to get behind the Lionesses this Sunday in what is England's biggest game since 1966. 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."
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, added: "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. It's been really positive to work with the Government to ensure everyone can get a chance to join in the celebrations."
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