FIFA, the game’s governing body, recently confirmed the first two rounds of matches will kick-off at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm, with games in the later stages kicking-off at 3pm and 7pm. The first game of the tournament kicks off on Sunday 20 November 2022 at 4pm with Qatar (the hosts) against Ecuador.
You can review the full list of fixtures and when games kick off for full details, however England and Wales have their first game on Monday 21 November, with England playing Iran at 1pm and Wales playing the USA at 7pm.
Given the World Cup is only months away, it is vital that licensees start looking at what they are doing during the World Cup now and not leave it too late. Here are some points to bear in mind:
- It’s not unrealistic to think that some football fans will be entering the pub at or just before 10am (licence permitting) and not leaving until late in the evening. To that end, licensees really need to look at training their teams to handle customers who may be drinking more than usual, looking particularly at issues of vulnerability and conflict management. Risk-assessing particular high-risk games is important too.
- Licensees also need to check the permitted hours on their licence and any restrictive conditions, particularly in regard to the early kick-offs. If necessary, a temporary event notice (TEN) can be issued.
- The police often receive a flood of TENs from licensees closer to the date, so if you get your TENs in early you may benefit from a more relaxed response from your local police officer.
- Be aware the police sometimes send letters or correspondence asking for additional measures to be adhered to during football matches. Typical measures are polycarbonate glasses only or the use of door staff. Whilst everyone wants a safe and successful tournament, if any of these are problematic then first contact the police to discuss or, if necessary, take legal advice.
In addition to these key points, operators also need to think about how the games may impact their existing trade, not least because the tournament runs through to December 18th, a period where many licensees are accommodating highly profitable Christmas Parties. I’m afraid some operators are going to need to work hard to make sure these two revenue streams can co-exist or take a decision on which is more important.
Post-Covid restrictions, operators are no strangers to operating their business in outside areas, but if they are planning to show games outside, it’s vital they consider the impact of doing so. Issues to focus on would include the increase in noise generated by football fans and the potential for complaints from residents, along with ensuring that high-capacity gatherings operate within fire and safety regulations. Finally, make sure you have sufficient staff to monitor outside areas.
- Suraj Desor is an associate solicitor at Poppleton Allen solicitors.