Matt Eley: Don't let the supermarkets spoil your World Cup party

By Matt Eley Matt

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: World cup, Beer, Debut albums

Gazza's tears, Owen's wonder goal, Beckham's petulant kick and his dramatic redemption against the same opposition four years on; Rooney's red card,...

Gazza's tears, Owen's wonder goal, Beckham's petulant kick and his dramatic redemption against the same opposition four years on; Rooney's red card, Ronaldo's smug wink and penalty misses by players you'd normally put your house on.

I could tell you exactly where I was, who I was with and (for the ones where I was old enough) what I was drinking for all those World Cup moments. That is what the World Cup does more than any other event - unites people and creates memories (some you would rather forget) that last a lifetime.

Of course on most of these occasions I also happened to be in a pub, which either enhanced the highlights or, with the wisecracks of friends to rely on, soothed the misery of defeat. And none of these occasions were marred with any kind of trouble at all, which may come as a surprise to the members of Her Majesty's Finest, who seem to think the World Cup will result in carnage on the streets of England.

Pubs across the country have been sent warnings about beefing up security and swapping glasses for plastic. The copper in charge of policing our World Cup travelling plans (surely his focus should be on events 'away' rather than 'home'?) has even said how concerned he is about World Cup promotions… in pubs.

And that's what worries me more than the prospect of Wazza damaging a metatarsal prior to June 11 - pub promotions being specifically highlighted. No matter that such on-trade deals have effectively been banned by the mandatory code then? And no matter that our old friends Tesco and Asda are already embarking on a pricing war that means you can get change from a tenner when you buy 20 cans of premium lager?

And also no matter that if there are repercussions following our inevitable exit it will be because there are morons in this world who think it is OK to turn over a kebab shop.

That is not the pub's fault; to be fair you can't even blame the supermarkets for that one, but perhaps this is where the police should be focusing their attention rather than blaming the pub for society's ills.

The World Cup should be the best opportunity pubs have had in a while to really cash in. But, with competition from supermarkets and the beady eye of the authorities closely scrutinising every move, it is not an open goal.

As our World Cup special shows (see links, right), you can't just switch on the telly and hope they will come. Those days are gone and you need to be able to offer the customer something that persuades them they should leave the four-pack in the fridge and their own sofa behind. If you can do that then you will be onto a winner and in doing so helping to create memories that people will cherish for years.

As we were going to press this week another major fixture was kicking off. Unlike the World Cup the general election has failed to inspire any real sense of hope and unity. Despite all the promises of the major parties the fact remains that whoever ends up victorious it is unlikely there will be any real winners in the pub trade.

Related topics: Sport

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