Almost one fifth of most lucrative pub sport events finish after 10pm

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Customer KO: 'historically mega fights have been some of the biggest nights in the calendar and we will lose 100% of the revenue,' Beds & Bars' Ben Kelly explained
Customer KO: 'historically mega fights have been some of the biggest nights in the calendar and we will lose 100% of the revenue,' Beds & Bars' Ben Kelly explained

Related tags Sport Legislation Health and safety

While the Premier League recently revised its kick-off times to ensure that fans have the opportunity to watch games before the Government’s pub curfew, 10pm closure could yet kick a number of lucrative sporting events into touch.

Evaluating the impact of the Government's curfew on live sport in pubs, Matchpint found that of the 50 most searched for events on its sport pub finding app since July 2019, eight finished after 10pm.

What’s more, all eight of these events featured in the top 20 of Matchpint’s Opportunity Index, which compares the relative supply, venues showing an event, with demand, fans searching for an event.

These included the period’s most searched for event, Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz – which finished at midnight in the UK – for example, as well as Deontay Wilder’s second clash with Tyson Fury, which was the third most searched for event despite finishing at 5am. 

"The curfew not only reduces revenue but also heightens health risks,” Matchpint co-founder Dom Collingwood told The Morning Advertiser (MA)​.

“Historically, fans have been able to celebrate and then slowly dissipate as matches end in the evening. 

“Now, not only are landlords faced with reduced revenue from losing late night events like boxing, but they also have to handle fans leaving the venue simultaneously within five minutes of a final whistle.

“There are much bigger issues facing the hospitality industry right now, but this added stress is certainly not what anyone needs."

Elsewhere, and by way of potential warning, Collingwood highlighted that Liverpool v Everton in December 2019 was an 8.15pm kick off that ended at 10.08pm.  

He added that despite the Premier League implementing adjusted kick off times​ across the last weekend of September and first week of October, a couple more VAR incidents or extended stoppages could leave publicans facing the prospect of kicking customers out before the final whistle blows.

Losing the ability to show sport 

In a joint report with CGA, MatchPint also found that the average spend for boxing fans and NFL fans was £34 and £33 respectively - considerably higher than football fans who spend in the region of £10-20 per head.

What’s more, the Super Bowl has grown into one of the most lucrative nights of pub sport, driving, on average more than £1,000 in incremental sales per site.

While the team behind the 2019 Great British Pub Awards’ Best for Sport winner, Belushi's London Bridge​, believe that the existing playbook on American Football screenings makes the NFL well suited to post-lockdown pubs, the 10pm curfew could kick their plans into touch.

Beds and Bars

“The curfew will have a big impact on us and other sport bars,” Beds & Bars’ group marketing manager Ben Kelly told The MA​.

“For example we’ve just poured some resources into the launch of the NFL season as it’s always done well for us, including investment in our pay at table app to enhance customer experience, and now instead of showing three back to back fixtures, we can only show one game per week. Already in one week we saw a reduction of 30% in pre bookings for the NFL fixtures.

“As you can imagine it doesn’t stop with the NFL,” Kelly continued. “We have lost the ability to show European football matches as they start an hour later due to time differences, and we will not be able to show the upcoming NBA championship finals as well. 

“The cost to broadcast Sky and BT sports represents a significant outlay and the return on investment is highly restricted by the curfew.

“There’s also a number of high-profile Boxing and UFC fights in the coming months that are US based which we cannot show. Historically mega fights have been some of the biggest nights in the calendar and we will lose 100% of the revenue.”

We may never get trade back

Elsewhere, Hickory’s director Jason Bligh told The MA​ that the inability to show games could undo a decade’s worth of work spent building an NFL Sunday offer across the company’s 11-strong smokehouse stable.

 "We launched NFL Sundays 10 years ago when we first opened Hickory's and we now have NFL Sundays across all of our Hickory's restaurants,” he explained. 

“We've built a big following, it's a growing sport, and it has great fans. The issue with the curfew is that it means obviously guests can't watch the later NFL games at Hickory's and then obviously will be watching them from home and naturally that has a long term impact because if this carries on for six months that 10 years of building that trade and that loyalty will naturally take a long time for us to get back. 

“I think more than anything it's changing our guests' habits,” he continued. “At the moment coming to NFL Sundays for them is something they look forward to weekly and what will likely happen is that if they're not coming to the late game they'll probably not come for the early game either and they'll just be watching from home. We may never get that back."

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