The Lionesses succumbed to a 2-1 defeat on Tuesday (2 July) as Americans Christen Press and Alex Morgan struck either side of Ellen White’s effort as the defending champions set up a final with European Champions the Netherlands.
Morgan celebrated her winning effort by satirically sipping tea with an extended pinkie – a move that may particularly irk pub operators who likely see nursing a pint as a more fitting example of traditional English drinking.
National stereotypes, VAR and a late penalty miss from England skipper Steph Houghton aside, the evening proved fruitful for Stonegate Pub Company, which saw sales increase by 69% across its estate.
According to the operator of 772 pubs and bars across the UK, these figures matched those typically experienced during Premier League fixtures between north London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, and represented the first time a game of women’s football has entered the top 25 sporting events in terms of sales at pubs.
Moreover, the Famous Three Kings in Fulham, west London, a three-time winner of the best for sport category at the Great British Pub Awards, recorded a sales uplift of 265% on the night.
The Lionesses 2019 World Cup campaign has been hailed as a watershed for the women’s game on these shores, with England’s semi-final defeat the most watched British television spectacle of the year – peaking at 11.7m viewers.
“At Stonegate, we pride ourselves on our sites being the best places for the UK’s sports fans to cheer on their favourite teams and the Women’s World Cup has been no exception,” Stonegate’s marketing director Nicola Pryce explained. “Inclusivity is at the heart of our business and we are proud of our history of helping nurture the market for women’s sports watching in the UK.
“All of our sites with the capability to screen Women’s World Cup matches have been doing so and Tuesday’s semi-final match, where the Lionesses sadly lost to the USA, we saw an overall sales uplift of 69% reflecting England fans’ growing and passionate support for the team.
“Additionally, this match was the first time women’s football has entered the top 25 sporting occasions for us in terms of sales uplift over the course of a season – roughly equivalent to the north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal.
“We are constantly innovating our sports-led entertainment offer with the goal that our pubs and bars are the next best place to the stadium to experience the atmosphere and excitement of a match.
“With sports that may not have as significant a following, we like our teams to host viewing parties so like-minded fans can come together and celebrate their side’s performance. Several of our sites hosted Lionesses viewing parties on Tuesday, including one of our leading sports pubs, the Famous Three Kings, Fulham. Consequently, that pub saw a staggering sales uplift of 265%.”
Not a flash in the pan
According to pre-tournament estimates by the British Beer & Pub Association, had the Lionesses beaten the USA and claimed a place in the final on 7 July, the nation’s pubs would have been boosted by an extra 3m pints sold throughout their tournament run.
However, according to Pryce, the growth in popularity of the women’s game is likely to present more opportunities for the trade in future.
“We don’t see the Women’s World Cup as a flash in the pan,” she added. “We are committed to screening women’s sports across our estate and growing the audience and market for them.
“We hope to build on the positive momentum of this year’s tournament in the run-up to the 2021 UEFA Women’s Championship in England.”