If you know me well, you’ll know I enjoy a drink or two. Or five. So when the Daily Star ran this splash today, I was as outraged as any self respecting England fan.
The Star wasn’t the only one to peddle the myth, though in fairness, it wasn’t entirely the fault of journalists.
England’s opening matches of the World Cup kick off at 11pm UK time, which poses something of a dilemma for the licensed trade. The industry body, The British Beer and Pub Association, had applied for a blanket extension of opening hours for the games. In turn, the Government said no : the World Cup does not warrant the granting of a “special occasion” like the Queen’s Jubilee.
The rotters! This Government! By early afternoon, the myth had spread like a bad Wetherspoon’s drinks promotion. Even the BBC News featured the story, complete with disgruntled drinkers denouncing the killjoys in Whitehall.
Except it wasn’t quite as bad as that.
Because during the World Cup – as at any other time of the year – pubs can apply to their local authorities for an extension to trading hours. Costing £21.
The trade body calculated that this would cost the pubs over £730,000. The money grabbing bastards. Although, in perspective, that’s the takings lost for one round of drinks. Or three hours of cleaning up the vomit from your toilets.
And it’s a little strange that the BBPA is complaining, just a week after issuing its own guidance explaining the very same temporary licensing applications – saying that, with a bit of forward planning, everyone could enjoy the World Cup down their local.
So in summary : the Government hasn’t banned pubs from opening late, nothing has changed in the existing licensing regime regarding extensions, and ultimately a landlord could always declare a private party and carry on serving.
But that doesn’t make a good headline.