Following a two-week public consultation on the extension which closed last week, the Home Office yesterday announced that pubs and bars across the country will be allowed to stay open until 01:00 BST when England matches kick off at 20:00 BST or later.
Its response to the consultation said: “The Government has listened to the views received in response to the consultation and in discussion with partners has decided to proceed with the proposal to relax licensing hours nationally for England’s World Cup matches.
“The relaxation will occur during England matches in the World Cup with a scheduled kick off time of 8pm or later. It will be for the sale of alcohol and late night refreshment for consumption on the premises.
“The relaxation will last four hours, to a latest time of 1am. This length of time covers any extra time and penalties, and will also mean that customers are likely to leave premises gradually after the match, minimising any nuisance to the public.”
Loud and clear
Welcoming today’s decision on extra hours for pubs for England’s World Cup games, Brigid Simmonds, the chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “It’s really great news, which will put pubs at the heart of a great national event. I am particularly pleased that the Government has really listened, and made sure that common-sense prevailed, granting the full four hours after kick off for England games, as we had asked.”
“I’d like to thank the hundreds in the pub trade who responded, making our views loud and clear.”
The association, which has led efforts to secure extra hours for pubs since last autumn, says that the four-hour extension is needed, not just because there are group matches starting at 8pm, or later, but also to ensure a smooth dispersal from venues.
Another pub industry body, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR)has also welcomed the move, which it says will save over £2m per England game by allowing fans to watch England’s matches in the pub.
The ALMR’s strategic affairs director, Kate Nicholls, said: “This is a great result for the industry which will ensure that football fans can enjoy the excitement of the World Cup in the enjoyable atmosphere of the pub.
“The relaxation will alleviate the need for thousands of pubs and bars to apply for costly and time-consuming Temporary Event Notices, saving the industry and local authorities around £2.5m per England game and will ensure a much welcome boost in trade.
“The full, four-hour relaxation will also ensure that fans will be able to disperse in a safe and orderly fashion at full time. The pub remains one of the safest and friendly places to enjoy high profile sport, and we are pleased to see the Government acknowledging this.”
Licensees and pub groups across the country also got involved with the online consultation; pledging their support for the maximum four-hour extension after kick-off. One of those groups, TCG, had been encouraging all of its individual pubs and bars to respond to the consultation.
Nigel Wright, chief operating officer of the managed pub and bar group, said: “This is a welcome result which will help to ensure a great atmosphere in pubs during the World Cup. TCG is gearing up for a Festival of Football this summer and we encouraged all our managers to respond to the Home Office consultation.
“As with the action on alcohol duty in the budget, it shows that the government will listen to the trade’s concerns when we show a united front.”
England's World Cup group matches include England v Italy on Saturday, 14 June; England v Uruguay on Thursday, 19 June and Costa Rica v England on Tuesday, 24 June.