Raise your pub game for the football season

By Tommy Leighton

- Last updated on GMT

Game-changer: footy shown in pubs boosts drinks sales
Game-changer: footy shown in pubs boosts drinks sales

Related tags Premier league Manchester united f.c.

Spurs are on their way to Wembley, Lukaku chose Manchester Utd over Chelsea and Manchester City have spent more on their defence than many small African nations, but what does the Premier League have in store for your venue this season?

According to MatchPint, the average pub showing Premier League football sees a £30,000 boost in wet sales through the course of a season. Less than a day’s wages for one of the league’s top-earning superstars, but for a pub that shifts its performance towards the higher end of the sliding average scale, it could be the difference between success and failure.

“That stat shows the value that top football action can bring to a pub and the opportunity to use the Premier League to boost trade,” says David Rey, managing director of Sky Business.

There are only two teams in town when it comes to broadcasters, with Sky Sports and BT Sport sharing the live coverage rights in the UK.

First Friday night kick-off

Across the season, Sky Sports will bring venues 126 exclusive live Premier League games – three times more than any other broadcaster. Rey adds: “More than a third of all Sky Sports domestic football viewing takes place in the pub.

"Last season, we showed 13 out of 14 of the most viewed Premier League matches out of home. The sport continues to be ever-popular with pubgoers and helps landlords to drive trade throughout the entire week, be it on a Monday evening or a Sunday afternoon.”

Punter patter

  • This is Huddersfield Town’s first season in the top tier of English football since 1972.
  • This summer, Manchester City bought the two most expensive defenders in history – Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy.
  • Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers have won the Premier League more often (once each) than Liverpool, Spurs or Everton.
  • Manchester United have never lost a Premier League game at home when they have been ahead at half time.
  • Only three players born after the Premier League began have scored hat-tricks in the top flight – Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku. The only person to score a Premier League hat-trick born before 1960? Gordon Strachan.

Or indeed a Friday night. Because this season will mark the first the time the Premier League season has kicked off on a Friday night – 11 August; the first of 10 Friday night fixtures on Sky this season. Arsenal, who have added £52.7m French striker Alexandre Lacazette to their team as they look to bounce back from an indifferent campaign last time around, take on the surprise champions of the 2015-16 season Leicester City and their fledgling boss Craig Shakespeare.

Debutants and big beasts

BT Sport gets its coverage under way the following day on the south coast as league debutants Brighton & Hove Albion take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City (who, at the time of writing, had already spent more than £200m in the current transfer window) at the Amex Stadium on 12 August.

BT Sport will broadcast a Premier League game every Saturday at 5.30pm. BT Sport director commercial customers Bruce Cuthbert says: “This season is likely to be one of the most competitively fought for years. With a number of big-money signings already announced, the Premier League never fails to attract people into pubs and clubs up and down the country.

"And since its launch, BT Sport has grown the total number of venues showing live sport as it remains a great value way to offer your customers fantastic live sport at an affordable price."

Clash of the titans

Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United are also on live during the first weekend. And you don’t need to wait long for the first of the season’s mega-clashes, as Spurs first ‘home’ game at Wembley sees them take on Chelsea in the flagship game of the second weekend.

As always, all of the top six clubs get a good dose of early season airtime but the TV schedules are nothing if not inclusive, and all 20 Premier League sides will be shown live well before the end of September.

Even more than the Premier League

Although occasionally it might feel like it, football is not all about the Premier League if you show Sky Sports or BT Sport.

“As we enter our fifth season we are incredibly proud to be offering customers our strongest line-up of exclusively live sport ever,” Cuthbert says. 

“Together with the Premier League and the FA Cup, we are the exclusive home of all the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, and with five English teams in the UEFA Champions League for the first time, including the return of previous European winners Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool, the season will be our strongest yet.” 

Sky Sports will show 127 exclusively live matches from the Sky Bet English Football League season – including the play-offs – as well as 15 matches from the Carabao Cup (League Cup). Your customers will also see the final group matches and play-offs from the FIFA World Cup European Qualifiers, 30 matches from the SPFL Premiership including every Old Firm derby, the Scottish Cup, Spain’s La Liga, MLS, Eredivisie, the Chinese Super League and more.

Raise your footy footfall

We’re all used to the blanket coverage of the most competitive league in the world by now, of course, but what’s new?

BT Sport aims to support publicans’ attempts to raise footy footfall. “Offering live football is a great way to keep your existing customers happy while attracting new regulars,” Cuthbert says.

“And after the summer break, probably the most important thing to do is to remind everyone what a great place to watch the footy your venue is.

“New for this season, we will be launching a free, tailored point-of-sale service, giving licensees the opportunity to choose from a number of different poster packs or alternatively they can opt to compile their own by selecting specific fixture posters from a range of sports that work best for them and their customers.

"Together with a comprehensive range of quality social media assets to help promote fixtures and sports through social media, our customers will always get the support they need to get the most from their subscription.”

Cuthbert adds: “Once your customers are through the door make sure you make the viewing experience is almost as good as being at the match.

“Only you know what your customers like so think about the zoning of screens, audio levels, food offers you can deliver before, during and after the game, and loyalty mechanics to get them back for the next match. Make sure your staff are all briefed and are aware of upcoming fixtures in order to start promoting future events.”

Enter a team in the BT Sport Pub Cup

Cuthbert also promises that following on from the success of the inaugural BT Sport Pub Cup this year, it will be back – bigger and better.

“We will also be putting the important role that pubs and landlords play in our community front and centre in our new marketing campaign that launches later this year,” he says.

Sky Sports offers similar services and advice, and Rey says the company also continues to innovate in its broadcasting to give viewers new experiences.

“Last year, we introduced Spidercam to the Premier League for the first time, giving landlords the chance to show their customers the action from a whole new perspective. In fact, more than three quarters of people say Sky Sports is the most innovative sports broadcaster and this season promises to be our best yet,” he says.

Get listed on the Sky Sports ‘Pub Finder’ service

Sky also offers its customers free fixture posters, either delivered through its Preview​ magazine or available to download on MySkySports, a portal dedicated to the firm’s pub customers.

Rey says: “Our Pub Finder service is also a great way to get more visibility to potential customers and a listing on the site makes it easy for fans to find a venue showing the match they are looking for." Visit https://pubfinder.sky.com/​ for details.

He continues: “We also recently launched an all-new programming line-up and two extra channels, including one entirely dedicated to the Premier League. The revamped line-up will help landlords to encourage even more customers through the door with the pick of the action,” claims Rey.

Create a buzz with match-day events

Once punters are through the door, he adds that publicans can always do that bit more to keep them entertained and spending money.

Rey adds: “We know that a good atmosphere is really important to pubgoers so landlords should think about putting on special match-day events to create a buzz.

"Decorating pubs with football colours or creating specific zones where like-minded fans can sit alongside each other, get a great view of the screen and order food and drink easily are all ways to keep customers loyal and happy. Food and drink offers are a great way to drive footfall so we would suggest getting creative with themed menus.

Pub predictions

We asked the shortlisted venues in the Great British Pub Awards 2017 Sports Pub of the Year category who they think will be the top three in the Premier League this season.  Let’s see who comes out on top in May... 


George Penny, Greenwood, London

1. Man Utd

2. Chelsea

3. Everton


Sarah Bracey, Corey’s, Tamworth

1. Man City 

2. Chelsea 

3. Man United 


Danny Grayson, Champs, Sheffield

1. Man Utd

2. Chelsea

3. Huddersfield


Paul Eastwood, Famous Three Kings, London

1. Man Utd

2. Man City

3. Chelsea


Phil Neale, The Thirsty Bear, London

1. Chelsea

2. Man City

3. Man Utd

Adrian Emmett, The Lion Hotel, Treorchy​ 

1. Chelsea

2. Man City

3. Man Utd

“Landlords can also think about ways to make match days a bit more interactive – perhaps running competitions alongside games to make venues stand out from the competition and to increase dwell time, eg, predict the amount of corners correctly to get a free drink.

“It’s all about making the pub as good a place to be as the stadium, creating that excitement and adding those extra touches that will make a customer want to come back.”

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