Big game player
Heineken® is the number one beer associated with sport (Toluna survey, October 2020, 18 to 64 year old beer drinkers) and the Official Beer Partner of UEFA EURO 2020™, meaning consumers will be actively seeking out Heineken® to enjoy during the tournament.
Delayed by 12 months and spread across 11 host cities – Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Munich, London, Rome, Seville, Saint Petersburg – to mark the 60th anniversary of the quadrennial men’s tournament, UEFA EURO 2020™ will finally take place between 11 June and 11 July.
UEFA has confirmed that there will be a minimum capacity of 25% for the first three group matches and round of 16 match at Wembley, while Glasgow’s Hampden Park will host between 25% and 33% of stadium capacity for its trio of group games and solitary round of 16 tie.
This means that a larger than expected number of UK-based fans will see their local as a key player in their efforts to soak up tournament atmosphere this summer, with 12.9m people claiming that they are planning to go out to watch UEFA EURO 2020™.
When asked “which sporting events are fans most looking forward to this summer?” by sport pub finding app MatchPint, fans listed UEFA EURO 2020™ as their winner ahead of the Lions Tour to South Africa, the final weekend of Premier league, the UEFA Champions League Final and the Olympic games.
As such, 41% of operators believe that UEFA EURO 2020™ will be the on-trade’s top scorer this summer, with almost nine-out-of-ten (89%) planning to show games from this summer’s tournament – and half of those claiming they will screen as many games as they can.
“Euro 2020 represents the biggest opportunity for pubs, bars, and restaurants to drive sales since Christmas 2019,” MatchPint co-founder Dom Collingwood says.
Consequently, the next few weeks will be vital as operators look to nail down their tournament tactics before kick-off in Rome 11 June.
According to CGA data, a star studded drinks line up, experience and service are the most important three aspects of a matchday in the on-trade for sports fans – over-indexing among UEFA EURO 2020™ fans.
What’s more, 87% of UEFA EURO 2020™ fans specifically consider a venue’s lager options to be key – with three quarters (74%) asking for a specific brand and sport consumers willing to spend 7% more per pint or bottle of lager than the average drinker.
‘You want to be the first venue on everyone's lips’
Scotland: A long awaited return
Goalkeeper David Marshall’s penalty shoot-out heroics in Serbia ensured that Scotland will be that nation that reaches major tournament finals again this summer.
While the Tartan Amy’s last extended outing was at the 1998 World Cup in France, this summer will feel more like a staycation as three group games and one round of 16 game will be held at Glasgow’s Hampden Park.
That said, the Scots certainly took the scenic route to this summer’s tournament, winning five and losing five games in their qualifying group, but reaching a UEFA EURO 2020™ play-off by virtue of their performance in the UEFA Nations League.
Steve Clarke’s side were then forced to navigate Scotland’s only two penalty shoot outs, beating Israel and Serbia – a 100% shoot-out record, take note England – to earn a berth in Group D this summer alongside World Cup finalists Croatia, Czech Republic and England, who Scotland also faced at Wembley at their last UEFA EURO finals in 1996.
Top scorer in qualifying: John McGinn (7)
Best UEFA EURO performance: Group stage (1992, 1996)
UEFA EURO 2016™ performance: Did not qualify
Group stage fixtures:
Monday 14 June – Scotland v Czech Republic (3pm, Glasgow)
Friday 18 June – England v Scotland (9pm, London)
Tuesday 22 June – Croatia v Scotland (9pm, Glasgow)
Tournament odds (William Hill): 250/1
Signature Group’s business development director Louise Maclean admits she was still at school when Scotland qualified for World Cup 1998 in France – their last major tournament appearance before this summer’s championships.
While qualification has gone a long way to restoring Scotland’s reputation on the international football scene, Maclean can’t stress the importance of UEFA EURO 2020™ in the rebuilding of Signature’s estate of Glasgow and Edinburgh-based pubs’ after Covid closures.
“Our wet-led, football-led, pubs are opening to provide a venue for people to watch the Euros,” she tells The Morning Advertiser (MA). “It's a really, really, strong point. The Euros is our summer for at least a third of our 21 pubs. Without it we probably wouldn't be opening as early as we are – that would have meant 150 staff staying on furlough.
“What the Euros is giving us is demand and a supply of customers,” Maclean adds. “It’s allowing us to open our venues, bring our staff back, reengage with our suppliers, to generate income and support the whole economy. I really don't think you can underestimate the importance of it."
Maclean caveats that fan atmosphere will have to take second place to complying with social distancing rules this summer, however, and that her sites’ staff will have to be “unbelievably creative” to deliver top drawer experiences to returning customers.
“Social distancing is, unfortunately, not going anywhere anytime soon. The main thing is if we want to stay open and trading, we have to make sure customers understand we have to be Covid compliant,” she explains.
“We have hired an audio-visual company to allow us to put televisions both outside and in some of our gazebo style structures that comply with the requirements for social distancing and ventilation, but also we have to appreciate we've got a Scottish climate.”
Maclean adds that a strong recent record in tournaments shown across Signature’s estate has been driven, in part, by having “a bit of fun” engaging customers on social media pre-tournament.
“It's not about fan spend per head as such it's about being the destination venue for that fan to come and watch the match,” she says. “So, when they're sitting there on a WhatsApp group with their pals saying, 'right guys, I've got a pass from the wife to go watch the football, who's in?' you want to be the first venue on everyone's lips.
"A reputation for really good quality audio visual is so important,” Maclean adds. “Nobody wants to come and watch on a tiny screen; you've got to really invest and make sure people can watch it from all angles. I think that's the main thing, you get a reputation for being a pub where the experience will be as good as it can be.”
‘Reacclimatise with the joy of socialising’
Wales: A tough act to follow?
After winning their way to a best-ever showing at UEFA EURO 2016™ in France – reaching a semi-final against eventual winners Portugal after a famous victory over a much-fancied Belgium side courtesy of THAT Hal Robson-Kanu goal – could Wales be tournament dark horses once more?
Since earning a Group A berth alongside Turkey, Italy and Switzerland by winning four of their eight qualifying fixtures, drawing two and losing two, Wales have won their most recent two competitive internationals against Finland and the Republic of Ireland.
Y Dreigiau will play their three group stage games in Azerbaijan and Italy before hopefully earning knock-out stage ties a little closer to home.
Top scorer in qualifying: Gareth Bale (2), Kieffer Moore (2), Aaron Ramsey (2)
Best UEFA EURO performance: Semi-finals (2016)
UEFA EURO 2016™ performance: Semi-finals, lost 2-0 to Portugal
Group stage fixtures:
Saturday 12 June – Wales v Switzerland (3pm, Baku)
Wednesday 16 June – Turkey v Wales (6pm, Baku)
Sunday 20 June – Italy v Wales (6pm, Rome)
Tournament odds (William Hill): 125/1
Listing Wales’ historic run at UEFA EURO 2016™ among his pub’s most memorable nights – alongside Welsh Grand Slam successes and big nights of boxing – Lee Price of the Royal Pier in Aberystwyth has high hopes for this summer’s tournament after the past year’s “limited and sporadic” sporting calendar.
“It’s an opportunity to coax people back to the bar and re-acclimatise them with the joy of socialising,” he tells The MA. “There is an obvious issue of consumers avoiding activity portrayed to be risky by the Government throughout the pandemic, but hopefully punters remember that our social spaces are safe.
“I predict pubs to achieve a decent level of trade generally throughout the tournament, and even better if all the home nations perform well,” Price continues. “That said, I don’t see any of them reaching the semi-finals, but will of course be delighted if I’m wrong.”
With his pub in the midst of an extensive revamp, Price hopes that the 2m social distancing rule in Wales is reviewed or reduced before the big kick-off so that the new look Royal Pier can whip up a lively tournament atmosphere – a key to previous tournament trading success.
“We’ve implemented the use of low-level artificial screening and customised barriers to keep the bar looking as unsterile as possible,” he says of previous efforts to adhere to social distancing.
“We’re currently undergoing a major refurbishment, removing walls to increase floor space and prominence, installing floor to ceiling windows along the entire side of the pub that overlooks the bay, and replacing all the fixed seating.”
What’s more, if appetite exists, Price hopes to lure customers back to the Royal Pier with food and drink combination deals and the incentive of a “bounce back” mechanism – however he acknowledges that any customer incentives will need to be considered in line with Covid-19 guidelines.
“There’s a tricky balance between reward and responsibility right now,” he explains.
‘I think we'll have record sales days’
Sport on the biggest stage
With the importance of outdoor space, Heineken® has supported stockists with more than £200,000 of investment in pub gardens to maximise capacity and increase viewing areas.
Jane White, marketing director, of London-based Belle Pubs and Restaurants, predicts that pub trading during UEFA EURO 2020™ will be “phenomenal for everybody that shows sport”.
“After a year of up and down, open and close, it's a chance to celebrate that everyone's able to watch the football and go to games,” she tells The MA. “I think we'll have record sales days in our pubs and our venues, and the home nations will all do well.
Discussing what will be the first major international football tournament at the Moretown Belle – the group’s premium, restaurant-style table service, site – White explains that booth seating and naturally distanced tables offer matchday fans a “comfortable” and Covid compliant viewing experience.
“Three quarters of our customers are always seated anyway, so they kind of enjoy that VIP style service where they dine, they drink, they watch the sport on screens,” she explains. “We've got 32 screens around the venue, so wherever you sit you can see the game you're looking for.
“We'll continue to follow that because it coincides with the Government guidelines anyway. It retains the environment we offer here. Being seated, watching the game, having table service, that's the key to this.
"When we take our reservations, we have a per person deposit which is then taken off their total bill at the end,” she continues, “so it guarantees they'll have something to eat, something to drink and they're not just sitting there with a glass of water.”
White adds that the Moretown Belle is pulling out all the stops on its major tournament debut, adding that the site will offer all-inclusive hospitality packages, “quirky” score prediction cards, and a ticketed preview evening featuring a Talksport Radio panel including Alan Brazil, Ray Parlour and Dean Saunders, internationals footballers for Scotland, England and Wales respectively.
"It's a massive opportunity,” she says. “We've used the period of closure to review, do maintenance, put in new menus. I think it's key that we've not just opened up our doors, we've thought about it, we've worked it to the level we can so we're really welcoming people back."
‘I'm hoping to get new custom by going down the family route’
England: Pre-tournament favourites?
England reached UEFA EURO 2020™ off the back of a relatively straightforward qualifying campaign, winning seven of their eight fixtures, scoring 37 goals and conceding just six in the process.
However, while Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions comfortably topped their group, defeat to the Czech Republic in October 2019 was their first defeat in 43 successive European Championship and World Cup qualifiers.
Nonetheless, England are being touted by many as hot favourites to reach a major tournament final on home soil this summer – a drastic improvement from their quarter final meltdown against Iceland in 2016.
Top scorer in qualifying: Harry Kane (12)
Best UEFA EURO performance: Third place (1968)
UEFA EURO 2016™ performance: Round of 16, where they lost 2-1 to Iceland
Group stage fixtures:
Sunday 13 June – England v Croatia (3pm, London)
Friday 18 June – England v Scotland (9pm, London)
Tuesday 22 June – Czech Republic v England (9pm, London)
Tournament odds: (William Hill): 5/1 (favourites)
Everyone’s got a “buzz” about this summer’s UEFA EURO 2020™ according to Star Pubs & Bars licensee Damian Chapman of Loxley Sports Bar & Grill in Sheffield. “It'll put a smile on everybody's faces and I think it's a massive opportunity to try and claw back some of the money we've lost,” he says. “But we do need to do it in the right way.”
As such, he tells The MA that he’s planning to drape his pub in Euro memorabilia – “flags, a giant inflatable football, all sorts” – in a bid to create an all-day, family-orientated, experience that will encourage visitors to make more than just a cameo appearance this summer.
“Don't just come down for the game, make a day of it, bring the family, there'll be food offers,” he says. “I'm going more down the route of making it a safe place to come even though it is football. Normally families don't tend to go out and watch the football, it just tends to be lads.
"I think if fans come as a family all of them will eat, they will have a couple of drinks as well, but they'll end up staying a lot longer,” Chapman continues. “We've got a big play area for the kids, so if they do get bored of watching the TV they can always go there.
“What I'm trying to do through the summer is build consumer confidence to come back to the pub instead of just lads, lads, lads – because they don't come in your midweek. I'm hoping to get new customers who will come back and visit not just for the football."
These tactics have seen the pub win big in the past on events such as the all-English 2019 UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham and eventual winners Liverpool. “It was an 8pm kick-off I did a family fun day during the day,” he recalls.
“There was something for everyone – I had a bouncy castle, some sumo wrestling suits, and big inflatables, then I did food offers throughout so the whole family could come down and enjoy the Champions League Final.
"The main thing for me is trying to create the right atmosphere before,” he continues. “Putting it on social media but in a way that attracts everybody and is not just about coming to the pub to get a tray of drinks and watch football."
'Check in Challenge'
Heineken® is giving pubs and fans a big win this summer: encouraging fans to visit their local for the chance to see a huge game in the flesh via the ‘Heineken® Check In Challenge’ on MatchPint.