Pub and bar operators thought that last year’s men’s FIFA World Cup was as good as it was going to get – record numbers headed out into trade to watch Gareth Southgate’s side perform uncharacteristically well in a tournament that enraptured pub goers throughout the UK. What’s more, the sun played its part too – happy days.
But, hang on a minute… what’s this? Cricket, you say? World Cup final, you say? WINNERS?! Oh, my Lords. There’s no doubt about it – England’s last gasp heroics against New Zealand have changed the mindset of sports fans in this country – we can actually prosper in a major men’s tournament! Our women have been showing the men how to do this for years now, and with the success of Phil Neville’s Lionesses during their World Cup campaign taking place just before that momentous victory in the cricket, there’s now no doubt about it – this is the time for pubs and bars to prepare for two imminent, world famous competitions that lie ahead and capitalise on our nation’s obsession with live sport.
Let’s look at the numbers
You may think that such statements on sports fanatics are over-hyped, but the numbers are there to see, with records being broken when it comes to viewing figures across major tournaments. For example, England women’s semi-final loss to the USA attracted the highest live TV audience of 2019 so far – 11.7m of us tuned in to support the Lionesses. While the split between in- and out-of-home viewing will favour the sofa dwellers, those figures should encourage operators to capture the attention of sports fans at the beginning of this Premier League season and into the Rugby World Cup this September.
“Within bars, restaurants, clubs and pubs, £4.7bn worth of drinks were sold in the UK over the eight weeks that last year’s FIFA World Cup was broadcast, and a third of those drinks were beer,” says Sharon Palmer, head of trade marketing at Budweiser Brewing Group UK & I. “Pubs and bars therefore shouldn’t underestimate the power and influence these cultural moments can have for consumers – particularly with another summer of top sporting events hitting our screens, including the return of the Premier League.”
The new Premier League season
The Pub & Bar team have already been brushing up on the key fixtures that take place at the early stages of the new Premier League season. Yes, we have to research for this article, but there’s also the ever-increasing pressures (priorities) of selecting the right Fantasy League team – Pep and Jürgen have got nothing on us. Understandably, Liverpool and Manchester City will be the two favourites to lift the trophy at the end of this season, which means more pub goers will be interested in how those sides are performing. While City and Liverpool may be intriguing frontrunners, the young managers at the helm of Chelsea and Man United will be a major talking point throughout the season, so make sure you have their fixtures highlighted in your calendar. We will, of course, keep you informed via our sports pages and our events schedule at the back of the magazine.
September also begins with a bang, as Spurs make their way to The Emirates to face Arsenal on Sunday 1 September (this weekend). The 4.30pm kick-off on Sky Sports is one that the majority of football fans will be keen to watch, so make sure you’re doing what you can to round them up. Sunday roast followed by the north London derby? Don’t mind if I do. Pre-season already saw the two teams squabbling over who has the best craft beer in their stadium… perhaps you could join the fun by offering Camden Hells (Arsenal) and Neck Oil (Spurs) to respective fans? It’s little promotions like this that could make a difference to your visitor numbers this season.
Rugby World Cup
Due to the time difference, initial on-trade thoughts about the Rugby World Cup being held in Japan were negative. When Jonny Wilkinson kicked England to glory in Australia back in 2003, pubs had to open up early to compensate for the nine-hour time difference. However, the fixture times in Japan aren’t as alienating as you might expect. Out of the three time slots, it’s only the first game of each day that will be a stretch to show for the UK on-trade – those are at either 5.45am or 6.15am. After that, it’s 8.15/8.45am or 10.45/11.15am for the remaining games of the day, meaning plenty of pubs and bars can cater for the breakfast crowd, get the games on ITV and try and keep those rugby fans well into lunch time.
Sunday 22 September is the first big date for your diaries. Make sure you’re staffed up and ready to open your doors for the 8.45am kick-off between Ireland and Scotland – what better way to stoke up the emotions of the Home Nations? Soon after that, at 11.15am, England will play Tonga, taking you right up to lunch – maybe your kitchen would like to have a crack at some Tongan cuisine? You never know what might prove popular. Although Wales get their World Cup started on a Monday morning (11.15am) against Georgia, it’s still worth letting your Welsh customers know you’re showing the fixture.
The key to making the most out of the Rugby World Cup is planning – get that fixture list out and target the games most relevant to you and your guests! You’ve got a month and a half of rugby to factor in, culminating in a World Cup final on Saturday 2 November at 9am. Guinness for breakfast, anyone?