What’s new in the 2018-19 football season and how can your pub make the most of it?

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

New season rules: pubs will have the chance to show back-to-back Champions League fixtures in midweek this season
New season rules: pubs will have the chance to show back-to-back Champions League fixtures in midweek this season
Sport pub marketing platform MatchPint has shed light on what changes pubs can expect during the 2018-19 season at home and abroad.

More Saturday night matches

The Premier League has added more live matches at 7.45pm on Saturday evenings for the 2018-19 campaign. The exact number hasn’t been revealed, however, the league has confirmed that it will be an increase on last season’s number (two) but not matching the eight fixtures planned for the 2019-20 season.

A spokesperson from MatchPint said: “Last year’s two games are too small a sample size to tell, but MatchPint data shows that Friday night games average 7% more searches than Sunday fixtures and expect search behaviour to be very similar for Saturday evenings.

“If you also look at the other large sporting events on Saturday nights, like boxing, MatchPint has found that customers spend more than 15% than the average visit to the pub on normal Premier League visits.

“If you are going to show the game, be very early and very clear with your advertising with what sort of experience you’re going to offer.

“If you’re going to have no sound because you also have a band in or music on, be transparent with fans because it’s better to lose a fan for one game than have them come to your pub and have a bad experience versus what they were expecting, and lose them as a customer forever.”

New Champions League kick-off times

UEFA have also made a change to their kick-off times ahead of the new season, introducing 5.55pm and 8pm kick off times for this year’s Champions League meaning that pubs can increase dwell time on European nights.

“Increasing screen time from 7.45pm to 9.30pm to 5.55pm to 9.45pm is great news for pubs for a number of reasons," MatchPint said.

“Firstly, it helps in the battle against the sofa because there’s now more of a reason for fans to go to the pub straight from work to catch the first game rather than go home first/not go to the pub at all because the wait for kick off is too long.

“Secondly, MatchPint and CGA found that 73% of fans said they’d watch English teams in the Champions League versus 49% that would watch non-English teams.

“With the opportunity for there to be more English teams playing and not clashing with another English team, it again should be seen as a hugely positive change for the on-trade.

“To cash in on the biggest opportunity that this season presents, it’s crucial to get as many punters in as possible for that 6pm kick off.

“Data suggests that it shouldn’t be too difficult if it’s two English teams playing, but for those non-English fixtures it is the perfect time to look to use a food promotion. A burger and a beer for £10, for example, gets people there straight from work and spending all four hours in your pub with no reason to go elsewhere.”

UEFA Nations League

An incredible, beer-soaked, summer of international football from the Russia World Cup has reignited the love affair between the English public and their national football team.

The interest in watching Kane and co don the Three Lions has hit new heights, with the introduction of the UEFA Nations League offering pub operators a means of striking while the iron is hot.

The MatchPint spokesperson explained: “This season brings the introduction of the UEFA Nations League, a new competitive format for international friendlies that sees the home nations all play games against teams ranked at the same level as them.

“You don’t need us to remind you how big the World Cup was this summer, so riding that wave of national euphoria in these first few Nations League matches could drive real incremental revenue compared to the previous years’ friendlies.

"We recommend that you treat these games just like a World Cup fixture, get the bunting out, kit your staff out in home nations shirts and try and recreate that great atmosphere from the summer.”

New broadcast rights holders

It’s not just players who’ve been at the centre of transfer tug-of-wars this year. The competition for sports broadcasting rights has escalated in 2018 with new players such as Amazon and DAZN emerging on the scene.

As a result, many pubs face going into the new campaign with both Spain and Italy’s top divisions – La Liga and Serie A – currently not available on UK TV.

A large number of sport pubs have built loyal customer bases around showing European club football and now face an uphill battle to show Cristiano Ronaldo in action for new club, Juventus, and Gareth Bale’s Real Madrid, for example.

According to MatchPint: “Eleven Sports has bought the rights to La Liga and Serie A and is currently only making the game available through its online streaming platform – that pubs are legally not allowed to show yet.

“There’s yet to be an official comment on how the on-trade can show Eleven Sports, but we recommend that you keep your ear close to the ground for an announcement.

“MatchPint data shows that both La Liga and Serie A fixtures had more demand from fans relative to the number of pubs showing it compared to the Premier League, so there’s a true audience for these games.

“If you do choose to invest in Eleven Sports’ offering – whatever that may be – it will give you a true unique selling point compared to most other sports pubs.”

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