Feature – Women’s World Cup

FEATURE: Go into extra time to back the Lionesses

By Henry Woodland

- Last updated on GMT

Success breeds success: the better England fare in the Women's World Cup, the more interest will grow (credit: Getty/JackF)
Success breeds success: the better England fare in the Women's World Cup, the more interest will grow (credit: Getty/JackF)

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Women’s football has been making big strides in the past year and this is due to the increased visibility of the matches. As a publican, it’s your duty to back our Lionesses and, as a business owner, it’s a sensible choice too.

The Women’s World Cup is expected to reap the largest audience for women’s football to date, based on the rates of positive viewership. It was reported last year there was a global, cumulative live viewership of more than 364m people watching the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament – making it the most viewed women’s football event ever.

Sources from UEFA reported the final of the tournament between England and Germany was easily the most-watched women’s football match of all time across the UK with the hope of increasing the viewership with this World Cup.

From 20 July until 20 August, the Lionesses are back, with a minor reshuffle due to injuries, to play in the most prestigious football competition, which is kicking off in Australia and New Zealand.

Jump in sales

Licensees would do well to remember success for the women’s team could equal joy for your pub too. During the Women’s Euros, which took place in England last summer, experts at CGA by NIQ found venues that screened matches enjoyed a jump in sales on average of 64% and that those that didn’t endured a sales dip of 5%.

Shockingly, research from brewer and pubco Greene King revealed that while 58% of Brits have started following a women’s sports team since the 2022 Lionesses victory, a third have never been to the pub to watch a women’s football game.

Its data also found two thirds still feel there is a lack of awareness and support for women’s sports teams compared to male teams. However, 73% think that the Lionesses’ victory last year has helped improve awareness and support for women’s sport, with many fans hoping that the team can clinch a victory again this year.

Greene King Pubs marketing director Andrew Gallagher says: “Our pubs have such an important role to play in major football tournaments; they provide a space for fans to show their support and come together as a community.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing England colours from head to toe, or if you’re just looking to back the Lionesses with your friends while you watch the match – our pubs are inclusive spaces for everyone during the upcoming tournament.”

women's world cup feature gpointstudio
Create an atmosphere at your site (credit: Getty/gpointstudio)

Award-winning advice

When the England Women's team was beginning its campaign for the Euros 2022, the Famous Three Kings operator Paul Eastwood was already heavily focused on ensuring his west London pub was on the ball when it came to supporting the Lionesses and women's sport in general.

He predicted at the time: “A lot of women’s sport is being shown these days and more is yet to come. There’s some coverage on terrestrial TV and on Sky, so it’s quite easy to get hold of.”

He added that women’s sport tends to be broadcast at times that don’t clash with men’s sport. So, domestically, it’s on before or after a big Premier League men’s match “so there is a chance to drive it”.

He explained: “You need to have that consistency, week in, week out. What I tend to do if I am trying to drive something new is I might put a reserve sign on two TVs in the best spot in front of a TV showing that sport. Nobody might turn up to watch that sport but if someone does comes in, I can say ‘you know what, there you are, you’ve come in for the women’s football and you’re in a prime position to watch it’ because you only get one chance sometimes with niche sports. It’s not going to happen overnight and you’re not going to open up and have 30, 40, 50 people come in, you need to drive it and drive it slowly.

“There’s nothing worse than when you do all the work, you do the advertising, do the footfall, contact your clubs, contact your societies and doing events to try to drive people in and then they come in and the tables where you’re showing the women’s football have been taken by a family just wanting to eat.

“So make sure if you are going to do it, have some tables available so when they do come in, they can watch it and you can make a bit of an event out of it. Just make sure you show you are serious about women’s sports.

“Let’s be serious about it and do it properly. Let’s not do it as an afterthought and not an event. Some operators may just put the game on but fail to drive it.”

The Famous Three Kings has won the Best Pub to Watch Sport category at the Great British Pub Awards five times​ and, although Eastwood has now left the Stonegate site and moved to Clubhouse 5​ in Soho, central London, the Kensington pub is still a big gun when it comes to sports coverage.

Softs will help too

“Soft drinks will play a vital role in driving sales during the tournament,” argues Coca Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) senior trade communications manager Amy Burgess. “A survey revealed 58% of people think a crisp, refreshing taste is one of the most important aspects of an adult soft drink” while the business’s Appletiser brand has seen “double-digit volume and value growth” since the growing trend of alcohol moderation in the UK.

Having visibility of the right products behind the bar is central to helping drive sales and, where possible, inform your staff to communicate about the quality of experience that is on offer. A standard mantra remains true for the period: use the correct bottles, or glasses, in order to ensure the sense of the occasion. Do not be shy with garnishes either because these help bring character to each glass.

Don’t forget not all matches will be viewed in the sunshine due to the time differences with the southern hemisphere so you may need to take time to prepare the interior of your pub, consider the food you could provide at the right times and you may also need to apply for temporary event notices (TENs) to cater for opening outside normal hours.

Matches taking place in Australia will be nine hours ahead of the UK while New Zealand is a gawking 11 hours in front of the great British pub. As such, matches will be shown live on the BBC and the ITV channels with kick-offs as early as 4.30am.

A perfect TENs

Back to TENs. Pubs will have to contact their local council for a TEN to carry out a ‘licensable activity’ on unlicensed premises in England or Wales.

Licensable activity includes selling alcohol; serving alcohol to members of a private club; providing entertainment, such as music, dancing or indoor sporting events; and serving hot food or drink between 11pm and 5am.

There are restrictions too. Your event must have fewer than 500 people at all times – including staff running the event; last no more than 168 hours (7 days), and you must be at least 18 to apply for a TEN.

You need a separate TEN for each event you hold on the same premises and if you have a personal licence to sell alcohol, you can be given up to 50 TENs a year. However, a single premises can have up to 20 TENs applied for in one year, as long as the total length of the events is not more than 26 days.

If you’re organising separate but consecutive events, there must be at least a 24-hour gap between them.

To apply, you must do so at least 10 clear working days before your event – so that gives you time to apply for the latter stages of the tournament such as quarter finals, semi-finals and the final.

You must send a copy of the TEN to the police and environmental health at least 10 working days before the event. If you apply online, the council will contact the police and environmental health for you. You can only apply for a TEN as an individual, not an organisation.

If you want to show some of the early stages of the tournament, theirs is a potential saviour if you haven’t applied for a TEN yet. Applying a ‘Late TEN’ must be done 5 clear working days before the event (but not earlier than 9 clear working days).

If you do not hold a personal licence, you can serve up to 2 late TENs per year. If you hold a personal licence, the limit is 10. Late TENs count towards the total number of permitted TENs.

Operator Wayne Edmond from Greene King site, the Griffin, in Leeds, West Yorkshire, says: “Make sure you apply for as many TENs in one go, because they only charge you once.”

He anticipated the early starts on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 August, which are when the second round matches take place, without knowing who will have progressed to that stage. He adds: “It’s a very easy process, so list all the dates in one application”, but warns “remember every council is different”.

England and Republic of Ireland group games (Kick-offs stated in British Summer Time)

Thursday 20 July – Ireland v Australia at 11am

Saturday 22 July – England v Haiti at 10.30am

Wednesday 26 July – Ireland v Canada at 1pm

Friday 28 July – England v Denmark at 10.30am

Monday 31 July – Ireland v Nigeria at 11am

Tuesday 1 August – England v China at 12pm

There are a total of 32 competing teams, an addition of eight from the 2019 tournament held in France, with 64 matches played over a 28-day period. According to CGA by NIQ: “On-premise sales can rise up to 43% in pubs and bars during the first four matches in the World Cup”, in comparison to an average day.

The three important fixtures for pubs to keep an eye out for are England’s group games against Haiti, Denmark and China in Group D. With further success from the England team, more matches will come. The spacing of all the matches has allowed for only 17 to be shown live within the period that it is legal to serve alcohol at most sites.

Another to consider is the overlap of two other sporting events during the period. Operators will need to think about how to manage the showing of the Open Championship (20 July to 23 July) as well as the Tour de France Femmes (23 July to 30 July).

Students key to service

Edmund of the Griffin has plenty of screens to show the matches on, he says: “I will always make sure there is at least one screen showing the matches," because he has to contend with other interests such as golf and cricket that his customers will want to watch. One thing is certain, he will be “opening earlier”, he says.

He adds Greene King offers flexibility for its staff, especially students who live and study in different locations. While many students are returning home because they have finished the academic year, students who study outside Leeds will be returning back to their West Yorkshire homes so there are no fears of a drop in service for the occasion. He also went on to say he's treating his staff with respect and those who “work the early shift” will be able to “finish earlier”, without working too many long shifts to compensate for the early starts.

Meanwhile, branding yourself as a venue that will show the tournament and tying in drinks offers can give your business an edge. Taking advantage of seamless technology can also help seize opportunities during the period. Further CGA research found “12% [of consumers who enjoy football] will actively seek different venues” to watch the games and, of all consumers, a third (33%) were found to be watching matches at a venue, with 32% watching at least once a week and 14% visiting to watch the major events.

You might have already have an idea to show the matches and share my vision of a Lionesses’ finale, and you want to capture customers from the region and increase your footfall but are unsure how best to achieve this. As we edge closer to the first kick-off date, Leighanne Bent, senior marketing manager for online booking platform DesignMyNight, shares some information for helping this possibility come to fruition.

DesignMyNight research found, as the tournament start date comes closer, searches for venues screening games across the UK has increased, with total search growth of 36% between May and June, and, in London in particular, search growth was up by 99% since May. The most popular of the group stage matches, Haiti versus, is in the highest demand currently accounting for two thirds (67.7%) of bookings.

Capitalising on the success of the first screening of the Lionesses’ matches, could bring a domino effect to your later bookings as well. If your establishment hasn’t listed its World Cup screenings, don’t worry because there is still time and, through the website, you can list your business and simultaneously take bookings. Bent states: “Demand will intensify as the tournament gets closer… particularly if the Lionesses have a successful run in the competition.”

Ideas for match days

So you’re all set with your TENs, you’ve put a system in place to ensure bookings are being taken and the excitement of the matches is building nicely. What are some ideas that can help your venue distinguish themselves from your competitors?

Designated zones for fans might suit your venue so you can keep the fans in one place while still operating business as usual. It could be standing or seating, inside and out. Making the most of your space and the unusual times of day could be a winner.

Perhaps Bloody Mary breakfast choices, leading your customers into a comfortable pint to wind down with in the afternoon sun. Or maybe you want to take the breakfast thing a little further and offer a full-blown boozy brunch for the early starts and provide discounts for larger groups. Bottomless mimosas and a breakfast fit for a pride of Lions and Lionesses may get the fans growling.

A little competition is fun and perhaps you could adapt your menus depending on the teams playing on any particular day. A Haitian Fresco, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, might be the perfect way to cool down after an action-pack first match. There’s a whole month to take advantage of…

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