Pubs "vital" for sports claims Arsenal legend

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Licensee honour: BT Sport has recognised the role pubs play in bringing sports fans together
Licensee honour: BT Sport has recognised the role pubs play in bringing sports fans together

Related tags Bt sport

Pubs provide a vital service for sports fans, offering a communal opportunity for like-minded people, according to Arsenal legend Martin Keown.

The former England and Gunners star said that as not everyone can get to a game in person, pubs offered a vital social opportunity.

Speaking at the start of a BT Sport campaign to celebrate heroic sport-loving landlords, Keown said that as a player, he hadn’t thought much beyond the audience in the stadium, but now recognised that pubs were “great for sports fans to come and create atmosphere with like-minded individuals”.

The pundit visited the Tollington, in North London, to kick off BT Sport’s Manager of the Month initiative, which aims to highlight landlords who go the extra mile to connect sport with the community.

Keown helped unveil a life-sized statue of licensee Martin Whelan during his visit, meanwhile further events saw similar statues revealed of Phillip Cutter, from The Gardeners Arms by TV presenter Jake Humphrey in Norwich, while former Wales and Derby midfielder Robbie Savage was on hand at the Chequers in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, to reveal Brian Priest’s life-size likeness.

BT Sport said all the winning pubs stood out from the competition thanks to the uniqueness of their venues, whether it be painting the pub to match the local team’s colours, TVs in the toilets, or getting the players from their local team in after the game.

Whelan said he’d worked hard to establish the Tollington as a great sports pub in the last 11 to 12 years, but never “imagined he’d end up with his own statue”.

He added: “I don’t have any plans for it at the moment, but I’m sure my missus does!”

The search for the next winners is already underway, with BT Sport inviting people to nominate their landlords, or for landlords to nominate themselves by tweeting @BTSportsBars using #BTMOTM. One operator a month will now be selected until June 2018, with each presented with a trophy by a local sports personality and a brand new 4K TV.

Bruce Cuthbert, BT Sport director, commercial customers, said: “Pubs are at the heart of their communities and sport is a fantastic way of bringing people together. The BT Manager of the Month gives us the opportunity to recognise the landlords up and down the country who go that extra mile for their customers and their community. If you have a landlord who you think deserves recognition then get tweeting @BTSportsBars using #BTMOTM.”

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