The Fifa World Cup in Brazil is fast approaching and we know that publicans are starting to think about how and where they will show England’s crucial group games.
In January 2014 the British Beer and Pub Association, a representative body of England’s pubs, asked the Home Office to consider granting a blanket extension of licensing hours to allow pubs to open in order to show England’s World Cup opening game against Italy. This would mean extending the licensing hours from 11pm to 1am the next day.
This is not an unprecedented request and the Licensing Act 2003 does allow for the extension of licensing hours in exceptional circumstances, which was used to extend licensing hours temporarily for, as an example, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. However, the Home Office concluded that an England World Cup game does not qualify as an “exceptional circumstance” for these purposes.
Without this extension any pub which wishes to open late to show an England game would need to lodge a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) to authorise temporary extension to their licensing hours at a cost of around £21.
However, David Cameron stepped in and announced that there would be a consultation with pubs, the police and local councils on whether a blanket extension of licensing hours should be granted. The consultation ran from 13-26 March 2014 and the Government’s response was published on 31 March 2014. The Government agreed with the British Beer & Pub Association that England playing in the World Cup is an occasion of exceptional national importance. Licensing hours will therefore be relaxed during England matches that are scheduled to kick off at or after 20:00. The relaxation will last for 4 hours to a latest time of 01:00.
This will affect England’s first game which will kick-off at 23:00 local time, however the remaining two other group games are scheduled to kick-off at 20:00 and 17:00 respectively. Later games, should England progress, are scheduled to kick-off at 21:00, except the final which will be shown at 20:00 local time. This means that many games should be within the licensed hours of the majority of premises.
However, there are other games, particularly in the group stages, which will have late kick-offs and the extension of licensing hours only applies to games which England are or may be involved in, and only until 01:00. Therefore, if there are other games which will be shown outside of your licensing hours or after 01:00 in the case of England matches which you wish to show then it would be necessary to lodge a TEN to cover this period.
With just over 4 months to go, licence holders should therefore begin to plan now which games they wish to show and check whether the premises licence or relaxation of licensing hours covers the planned activities so that steps can be taken in good time to ensure that they are able to do so.