Summer of Sport

Making the most of Euro 2016 in your pub

By Nigel Huddleston

- Last updated on GMT

There are more matches for pubs to show in this year's European Championship
There are more matches for pubs to show in this year's European Championship

Related tags Northern ireland 1970 1967 Football Carlsberg

This summer’s Euro 2016 sees the expansion of the tournament finals from 16 to 24 teams, resulting in 20 more matches being available for football fans to watch in an atmosphere that is second only to a stadium itself — the pub.

What’s more, two of the extra qualifications spots have been grabbed by Wales and Northern Ireland, meaning that more pubs across the UK will have a vested interest in the tournament compared with recent competitions, where the sole home interest has been provided by — a frequently disappointing — England.

Watch the official Euro 2016 trailer below

The Republic of Ireland have qualified too and their ex-pat supporters are likely to bring plenty of business to many British pubs.

Euro 2016: Big group matches

There are plenty of big matches in the group stage to pull in punters

  • France v Romania - Fri 10 June, 8pm
  • WALES v Slovakia - Sat 11 June, 5pm
  • ENGLAND v Russia - Sat 11 June, 8pm
  • Poland v NORTHERN IRELAND Sun 12 June, 5pm
  • REPUBLIC OF IRELAND v Sweden - Mon 13 June, 5pm
  • ENGLAND v WALES - Thurs 16 June, 2pm
  • Ukraine v NORTHERN IRELAND - Thurs 16 June, 5pm
  • Belgium v REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Sat 18 June, 2pm
  • ENGLAND v Slovakia - Mon 20 June, 8pm
  • WALES v Russia - Mon 20 June, 8pm
  • Germany v NORTHERN IRELAND - Tues 21 June, 5pm
  • Italy v REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Wed 22 June, 8pm

For full fixtures visit the Euro 2016 website

And there’s more good news — the chances of getting knocked out in the group stage are just one in three. The winners and runners-up of all six first round groups will go through to the knockout stages along with the four best performing third-placed teams.

Any thoughts of Euro 2016 being a poor relation to a World Cup are dispelled by the presence of Belgium, currently top of the FIFA world rankings, along with Spain, Germany, Portugal, England and Austria from the top 10.

The tournament kicks off on 10 June and lasts for a month, with the final in Paris on 10 July. There are 51 matches, with UEFA estimating that each one will have a live TV or digital audience of 150 million people.

Building atmosphere

In the UK, of course, many of those following games will choose to do so in a pub, with research conducted for Carlsberg showing that 75% of pub goers watch football at some point.

It’s easy to get complacent about hosting live football on TV in a pub. All you need to do is turn on the TV and wait for the crowds to arrive, right? Well, obviously that would be great, but if you haven’t planned other elements of your business around the event, this could backfire.

While customers enjoy the atmosphere of a busy football pub they don’t like having to wait to get a drink. Carlsberg research shows that 77% say the prospect of not having to queue at the bar would persuade them to watch football in the pub more often. Seven out of 10 would be attracted by more seating, 64% by table service, and 63% by the possibility of being able to reserve a table.

Overall, customers want the good things about pubs such as social interaction and quality food and drink combined with the comfort, safety and friendliness they’d expect at home. Carlsberg category development manager Sarah Allaway says there is between a 50% and 80% uplift in the rate of sale for beer in pubs depending on the circumstances of the game.

Fans in agony in pub

Know your customer base

The brewer has identified four distinct groups of pub-going football watchers: 15% of ‘fanatics’ always watch televised games in the pub, as do 13% of ‘fans’. Allaway says: “Fans and fanatics go to the pub just for the match and wet sales are absolutely core for those two groups.”

England Euro 2016 warm-ups

Don't forget England's pre-tournament warm up fixtures

  • Sun 22 May v Turkey
  • Fri 27 May v Australia
  • Thurs 2 June v Portugal

Of all those who watch football in pubs, about one third combine the match with another social occasion, so Carlsberg recommends giving them reasons to stay in the venue after the final whistle, including continuing to serve food and providing post-match entertainment.

“‘Flirts’ and ‘followers’ are groups for which food is really important, both pre- and post-match, and the opportunity to book a table could appeal,” says Allaway. “The fans and fanatics aren’t so interested; what’s more important is that they can see and hear the match and get a drink when they want one. The important thing is to understand which sorts of customers you already attract and staff the venue accordingly.”

As the official beer of Euro 2016 and of the England team, Carlsberg has a head start in making its mark in the on-trade through the tournament. Pubs will be central to its Euro 2016 activity in a new spin on its If Carlsberg Did…​ campaign in which familiar pub signs will be substituted with patriotic alternatives, such as The Red Lion becoming the Three Lions.

It’s also organising the takeover of 50 pubs with either Lion or Three in their names to become temporary Three Lions pubs, with support given to those licensees to generate local press coverage.

The brand will also be on screen during every match through perimeter board advertising, while social media will be used to hold man of the match polls for each game. Point-of-sale kits, containing posters, planners, flags and wigs, will be provided to 10,000 publicans in mainland UK.

The presence of Wales and Northern Ireland will give an added boost to pubs across the UK, Allaway says: “We see the highest uplift with England, followed by any home nation. When they are playing you have to make sure people know about it and that you are showing the game.”

Wayne Rooney England

Think about publicity

No drink category is so closely associated with football as lager and other brands such as Carling and Budweiser have ongoing football-related activity.

Alpesh Mistry, UK customer marketing director at Carling brewer Molson Coors, says: “We’re supporting more than 3,000 customers with engaging visibility items to use in their venues, such as external banners to promote games, bunting celebrating all the teams in the tournament, pitchers to ensure you can serve drinks in the best possible way, and posters amplifying the games.”

It will also be supporting sports-led venues with a numbered glassware promotion. Carling drinkers can claim a reward if the number of their glass matches that of the next player to score.

Katerina Podtserkovskaya, head of Guinness activation in the on-trade, says the same principles should be used by pubs for any major sporting event. “Make sure there are plenty of screens, all visible from a distance, the view is not obstructed and the service is smooth,” she advises.

BBPA Euro 2016 guide

The British Beer & Pub Association has produced a guide for pubs on making the most of Euro 2016.

The guidance has been developed with the support of the Local Government Association and the National Police Chiefs Council.
Download the guide here

Podtserkovskaya also urges publicans not to overlook pre-publicity for games such as postings on social media and fixture lists around the venue. “These things seem obvious,” she says, “but if they are not in place, it might make fans go somewhere else.”

She adds: “Licensees should make the most out of days where there are two matches by turning the day into a package deal for consumer. “By creating an experience that lasts longer than just one game, and tying in price promotions, meal deals or free snacks for fans, pubs can create a more engaging environment and encourage dwell time.”

With more teams, home nation involvement and plenty of big brand support, licensees could have a very profitable month.

In the recent past England have badly underachieved at tournaments, but with a young, exciting team, backed by a 100% winning record in qualifying — and with Wales at their first tournament since 1958 — it’s a good chance to reignite some of that Euro ’96 passion.

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