England vs Scotland: Pub groups desperate for win in pandemic recovery

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Pub operators on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall will cheer extra loudly for their team tonight because the result can help unlock desperately sought-after revenues in the wake of the pandemic.


Each game at the Euros is believed to be worth millions for pub chains, even whilst customers are restricted to table service in small socially-distanced groups.


A win for England will assure a place in the knock-out rounds, meanwhile, any points taken by Scotland will keep their chance at progression alive ahead of the final round of group games on Tuesday.


For pubs owners it matters especially because of the four-week delay to ‘Freedom Day’ which put yet another dent in profitability.


Under the original plans, knock-out games could’ve been shown indoors in busier and unrestricted pubs.


The delay to the end of restrictions, the so called ‘Freedom Day’ as dubbed by Boris Johnson, was the latest blow to hospitality.


It follows recent industry data showed that Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups recorded a 26% drop in total sales in May from the same month in 2019, and, earlier this week trade body UKHospitality warned that the ongoing restrictions will cost the sector around GBP3bn in sales and potentially put at risk 300,000 jobs.


So, as performance on the football field leads financial performance investors in the likes of City Pub Group Plc (LON:CPC), Mitchells & Butlers Plc (LON:MAB), Marston’s PLC (LON:MARS), and Fuller, Smith & Turner Plc (LON:FSTA) will have extra reason to cheer on their teams.


Because of the Freedom Day delay, English pubs will continue to operate under Covid restrictions for the rest of the Euros. The new date moves back to July 19, eight days after the tournament’s final on July 11.


Indoors English pubs are restricted to table service, with groups no larger than six people, whilst outdoors in beer gardens fans can gather in groups no larger than 30 people.


Scotland’s pubs are meawhile operating in a tiered system which vary the number of people in groups, the amount of time each group can be in the pub and closing times.


In Glasgow, where Scotland plays two of their three group games, pubs must operate two-hour pre-booked slots and close indoors at 22:30 BST.


Some establishments in different parts of the UK have been seen using the mandated slots and table bookings essentially as ticketed events, with some press reports claiming groups are paying hundreds of pounds to secure their tables for the big games.


Wales already moved significantly closer to the knock-out rounds and only has one group game left, against Italy in Rome on Sunday night.


In Wales, fans in pubs are also restricted to table service and must be in groups of no more than six.


Alternatively, there’s Tenants larger owner C&C Group PLC (LON:CCR) which will be among the stay-at-home winners, along with the other drinks brands and supermarkets like Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) and J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY).

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