How the summer of sport could impact the leisure sector’s fortunes

Tuesday 7th June 2016

Not since 1966 has the England football team been victorious at a major football tournament, but this has not stopped the nation from pinning their hopes on glory when the Euros or World Cup roll around.

This year will be no different, as Roy Hodgson’s men journey to France in search of victory, but football fans will not be the only ones hoping the team makes it deep into the tournament – the country’s pubs and bars will also be keeping their fingers crossed.

Traditional increase

Major tournaments traditionally see a significant increase in the of people choosing to watch sport in the pub – only last year, the Rugby World Cup resulted in a surge of activity – but football is by far the most popular pub spectator sport, particularly when England are playing.

For many outlets, the televised sport offering is almost as integral to the business model as the food and drink served, with screen positioning and seating almost taking a stadium-based approach to provide sight lines and visibility.

No more so is this evident than during England games, when a sea of red and white fans will descend on their local to cheer on the boys in the inevitable penalty shootout, and the benefits for the host bar or pub are significant.

Market drivers

This year, Greene King predicts that the younger end of the market will be a major driver of footfall during the European Championship, with 60 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds heading to the pub to watch England in action.

A poll carried out by the pub chain found that atmosphere is more important than location, food and drink when deciding where to watch a game, and this is something that venues will need to balance in order to attract the greatest number of patrons.

In 2014, JD Wetherspoon – which has traditionally marketed itself as a music, TV and sport-free venue that positions itself based on low-cost food and drink – reported a drop in sales during the World Cup tournament.

Even though it was broadcasting games, many fans were unaware of that fact as the venue had not previously done so, and so the problem was mainly down to lack of awareness – something that many venues in the same position will need to bear in mind for the upcoming summer of sport.

The problem had been rectified by the time of 2015 Rugby World Cup, with Wetherspoon’s eventually reporting an increase in like-for-like sales over the course of the tournament.

Plentiful opportunities

With England’s rugby union team also touring Australia in June and the 2016 Rio Olympics on the horizon, consumer demand is expected to remain high over the summer, with bars that are properly prepared for the intake set to be in the prime position for profits.

For smaller venues in particular, an impressive tournament run by England could have a substantial impact on profits that is felt for the remainder of the year.

Of course, there is always the chance that England will go out in the group stages and interest dwindles, but that will never happen – will it?

If you need legal advice on commercial property matters, including the licensed premises sector, please contact Simon on 01274 202514 or For more information, visit our leisure and hospitality page.