Where sport is the name of the game

Irish bar Malones Glasgow puts televised action at the heart of offer

You’ll never drink alone: Malones Glasgow

AS long as hundreds of thousands of pub-goers in Scotland plan their trips to the on-trade with televised sport in mind, there will always be a demand for a venue with sport at its core.

And it’s proven to be a route to success for the team behind Irish bar Malones Glasgow.

Having taken over the former Universal bar on the city’s Sauchiehall Lane in February 2014, the team redesigned the main bar to best accommodate sports fans.

“We knew when we first opened that the bar wasn’t facilitating what we wanted,” said manager Keith Russell.

“There was too many people standing at the bar and blocking screens, so we moved
the bar against the far wall with all our screens in positions that would always be visible no matter how busy it got.”

Malones was names Best Venue to Watch the Match, in association with Sky, at the 2018 SLTN Awards

However, the focus on delivering televised action didn’t stop in 2014; the bar recently invested a five-figure sum in a sound system that will deliver “crystal-clear” commentary, greater atmosphere and, when combined with the 4K high definition TV footage the bar offers, bring customers even closer to the action, said Keith.

An attention to detail that even includes match-friendly food (which suits the huge amount of standing space in the venue), was acknowledged last year when the bar was crowned SLTN’s Best Venue to Watch the Match, in association with Sky.

The win was a special moment for Keith, who was impressed by the “high quality” and thorough approach of judges for the award.

He said: “It was amazing for us to get to the final three. We all felt, ‘if we win this it’s actually because we’re actually good at what we do’, so I think that made it 100 times better than any other award we’ve been up for.”

While live football and Celtic games in particular have provided the bar with some of its best trading days, the venue has connections to a host of different sports.

I think that made it 100 times better than any other award.

As well as sponsorship of several Glasgow-based boxers, the bar has cornered the market in the city as the place to watch the traditional Irish sports of Gaelic football and hurling.

Malones sponsors two Gaelic football teams in the city, Tír Conaill Harps (who Keith plays for) and Glasgow Gaels.

It’s proven to be a shrewd decision, filling the pub in summer months when football is thin on the ground.

The All-Ireland hurling final can also pack the bar out, said Keith.

“We have a queue down the lane to get in for that,” he said.

“You can maybe have 200 Dublin fans and 200 Donegal fans in for it and they are all as passionate as any football supporter.

“I don’t think people realise how many people of Irish descent there are in Glasgow.”

Keith himself hails from Belfast, while Simon Keane, owner of the Malones group, which also has outlets in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, is from Waterford on the south east of the Emerald Isle.

And catering to Irish expatriates has become another focus for the group, which is keen to bring a taste of home to the Irish diaspora.

“We get products brought over specifically from an Irish supplier,” said Keith.

“We get in Tayto crisps and [Irish soft drink]  Club Orange.

“It’s bringing our customers some home comfort.”