Warwickshire pub owners crossed their fingers for Gareth Southgate and the boys on Tuesday night.
They are understandably eager to see England’s dream of Euro 2020 come to life as the Three Lions prepare to face Germany in their long-awaited round of 16 clash at Wembley.
There is also a financial element at play with many cash-strapped pubs experiencing an increase in commerce despite social distancing and other public safety measures.
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The Black Pug, in Coten End, Warwick, have erected large screens inside and out in hopes of capitalizing on the tournament – and England’s involvement in particular.
Deputy manager Ellie Kirkbride said: “We will obviously be supporting England! All matches in England are sold out and we have been taking bookings since England ended.
“It was really nice to come back and have a very busy pub. In terms of business, I think we’re pretty close to where we would have been without the restrictions.”
It’s a similar story to The Coach House in Rother Street, Stratford.
Linzi Toon only took over as owner a month ago, but has been bolstered by the pub’s performance.
She said: “Every table has been reserved for all England games so we hope they can continue!”
Matt Moore, team manager at the Leamington Copper Pot, said he would “certainly” cheer on the Southgate team as they aim to stage a quarter-final showdown with either Ukraine or Sweden.
“We’re a sports pub, so we obviously showed the football,” he said.
“We had expected more (customers) if the restrictions had been lifted.
“But we still have enough people in. We’re definitely up from where we were. In terms of sales.”
Southgate’s England haven’t exactly set the world on fire, but they made it to the knockout stage with relative ease and know the draw could really open for them if they can overtake their old enemy.
James Reeve, owner of The Merchant’s Inn, hasn’t actively promoted Euro 2020 matches, but his rugby pub has seen an increase in bar traffic nonetheless.
“I’m full on match days (in England),” he said. “I’m not targeting the football crowd as such, but I still had a few people I wouldn’t normally have seen if the game was going on.”
The Squirrel Inn, also in Rugby, does not broadcast live sports. Still, owner Sue Geraghty said her Church Street waterhole still benefited in some way from the passing trade.
“I tend to have people come to us after the event,” said Sue, who is considered the oldest owner in town.
“Sometimes they’ve gone to watch it on a big screen somewhere, but we don’t show it ourselves because we’re such a small room.”
Not all pubs in the county are seeing a dramatic increase in footfall and profits.
Alan Grainger, manager of The Racehorse at Stratford Road, Warwick, said: “We have all England games on the line.
“We have a covered area outside where we show the games. We had nice crowds, but only a marginal increase in trade.”
Lynne Morris, owner of The Miners Arms, in Whittleford Road, Nuneaton, said the tournament had yet to offer the financial lifeline she was hoping for.
“It didn’t really increase our trade,” she said. “We see people staying at home. That was certainly the case for the opener against England.
“It might be better for this next game. People have gotten used to drinking at home. Our recipes are down 25% from normal since we reopened in May.
“We still have a lot of missing customers. We just hope they get tired of cleaning up the bottles and all the mess and come back to us.”
Some outlets did not experience any increase in cash register receipts.
“We have it in place,” said Steve Reynolds, who runs the Cape of Good Hope in Warwick.
“But I didn’t put extra TVs outside because it didn’t really make a difference to us.
“If anything, it puts off our guests, so it’s a big consideration for us.
“If there were no restrictions it would be very different, but as it is, we have to focus on our food supply in the evening.”
The government’s decision not to pursue plans to fully unlock the company on June 21 shifted the goals for owners and made all the difference in their business plans.
“It hasn’t been too bad,” said Simon Norton, licensee at TJs Bar and Grill in Bath Street, Leamington. “If there hadn’t been a covid, it would be a lot better.
“Yes England matches are busy, but not as busy as they would have been without the restrictions in place.
“If England scores people are excited and I have to tell people to sit down which takes a lot of the atmosphere away.
“We should get past the restrictions now. This could have been the time the pub really started to take off.”
The Prime Minister has pledged to postpone what had been heralded as Freedom Day until July 19 to give the NHS a chance to immunize the entire adult population with at least one jab.
The sharp rise in covid cases in Warwickshire is a worrying snapshot of what is happening across the UK.
The county’s seven-day moving average more than tripled, from 52.43 per 100,000 people on June 13 to 176.66 per 100,000 people on June 27.
Mr Norton believes pubs and bars could be better in the long run if England were knocked out of the tournament, as that would potentially prevent certain high-risk environments from fueling further spread.
“I don’t know how you would expect a pub to control these restrictions if England reached the final and every pub was packed,” he added.
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