World Cup final: Pubs call for relaxed alcohol laws on Sunday

5 minutes ago
About sharing

By Lora Jones
Business reporter, BBC News

Pubs are calling for licensing laws to be relaxed to allow venues to serve alcohol from 10:00 ahead of the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) wants pubs to be able to sell drinks before kick-off.

The BBC understands it is unlikely as MPs would need to return to Westminster to change the rules temporarily.

Pubs can open when they choose on Sundays, but when they can sell alcohol depends on each pub’s licence.

Temporary tweaks to licensing laws that apply in England and Wales for special events have to be approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords under the Licensing Act 2003.

This has been done in the past ahead of big celebrations such as the Platinum Jubilee and the Euro 2020 final.

However, as Parliament is currently in recess, it is understood the government is not planning to recall MPs to make the change ahead of the England v Spain final.

Individual pubs can apply for a special exemption to serve alcohol earlier than is allowed under their usual licence, but this requires several days’ notice ahead of any event.

If any venues had waited until the day of the semi-final to do so, it would likely have been too late to gain permission for Sunday’s final.

The BBPA, which represents more than 20,000 pubs, told the BBC it didn’t believe many pubs would have applied for the temporary notice for the big match.

Emma McClarkin, its boss, said: “As England enter their first World Cup Final since 1966, we need the government to step in and allow the necessary regulatory easement to allow pubs to serve the public from 10:00 on final day, so fans and communities can come together and cheer the Lionesses to victory.

“Where there’s a will, there has to be a way.”

Alun Cairns MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said he had raised the issue with the home secretary directly.

“We need to do all we can to support the team, whilst at the same time backing our great British pubs.”

‘Carnival atmosphere’

Clive Watson, chair of the City Pub company, said that it was expecting “brisk trade” and “a carnival atmosphere” across its 43 pubs if England win. Most of its pubs have a licence to serve alcohol from 12:00.

Many of the chain’s venues will be open from 10:30 on Sunday, but Mr Watson added: “It would be great if the government could relax the licensing laws so we can serve alcohol from 11:00.

“This is an historic sporting event for England. It’s not just about pubs selling more pints – it’s bringing everyone together to cheer the Lionesses on.”

The World Cup final is already expected to bring a £41m boost to the hospitality sector across the UK, according to the industry trade body.

UK Hospitality estimates that an extra one million people will be drawn into pubs, bars and restaurants in the hopes of seeing a win for the Lionesses.

Kate Nicholls, its chief executive, said: “We’ve seen venues already make a huge effort for the Women’s World Cup and we expect that to go even further this Sunday, which will inevitably lead to a boost for hospitality businesses.”

Sunday trading rules can be tweaked for “an occasion of exceptional international, national, or local significance”.

The pub chain Young’s, which has more than 200 venues across the country, said that most would be opening by 10:30 ahead of the match at 11:00.

For those that can’t serve alcohol before 12:00, they will be serving tea, coffee and a breakfast menu.

Related Topics

More on this story

18 hours ago
21 hours ago
51 minutes ago
15 hours ago