The good, the bad and the ugly of running a pub associated with a sports team

By Liam Coleman contact

- Last updated on GMT

The good, the bad and the ugly of running a pub associated with a sports team

Related tags: Arsenal, Arsenal f.c.

Located a stone’s throw away from the Emirates Stadium and with a cannon on the sign that hangs over the door, the Tollington Arms is only ever going to be associated with the Gunners - Arsenal Football Club. Owner Martin Whelan reveals the benefits and challenges that come from associating with a football team

How long have you been owner of the Tollington Arms for?

We had it open two weeks before the Dennis Bergkamp testimonial, which was when the new stadium opened [in July 2006].

What’s the ownership of the pub?

It’s on a leasehold basis with Greene King at the moment.

Is Greene King happy with the pub being synonymous with Arsenal?

They [Greene King] knew I had the Gunners Pub [near Arsenal’s old ground of Highbury] and they had this run-down shack that was going nowhere, so they asked me for my experience.

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Do you feel like the pub is limited by being associated with Arsenal?

It’s not solely Arsenal. When Arsenal are playing or Arsenal are on TV, it is Arsenal fans only.

Some people are in a queue for season tickets or can’t afford season tickets, so they look for the next best thing.

They do come to a pub that has a decent name; we’ve been 'pub of the year' for the last couple of season from the Arsenal supporters. Anything to do with Arsenal, there will be an interest.

Outside of that, there is a massive interest around the Cricket and Tennis. We don’t just appeal to one set. On a match day, it is all Arsenal. The next day, we’ll put it back together again for another football game.

Do you attract a variety of fans for non-Arsenal matches then?

With the Sobell Leisure Centre across the road with five-a-side and Badminton, you have so many different sports. We’ve got three different dishes here so you can show anything from ice hockey, tennis, cycling, cricket or rugby league and we’ve got the space to have three different sports on TV.

Are the bar staff enthusiastic Arsenal fans?

A lot of them are locals, so I’d say that 80% of them are Arsenal fans. Football isn’t the vice for all of them, but it’s becoming more and more popular with the staff.

Related topics: Property law, Sport

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