Home Office eyes next summer’s international football feel-good factor

Men watching sport on a pub TVHOPES are high that next year’s Euro 2024 football tournament, taking place from 14 June to 14 July 2024, will drive increased trade in pubs and bars around the UK, as the Scottish, English and Welsh national teams have all qualified to compete.

In what might be viewed as an attempt to ride that optimistic wave, the UK Home Office has this week proposed that licensed premises be allowed to open later for the semi-finals and final, if any of those home nations reach the later stages of the tournament.

However that extension, if approved, would be purely applicable to England and Wales, allowing premises that would usually stop serving at 11pm to keep their bars open til 1am.

In Scotland, licensing hours are set by local authorities – and the situation here is therefore more fluid, with a 1am opening trial already being mooted for Glasgow.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said“The Scottish Government does not have a power to grant extensions of licensed hours.

“Licensing Boards in Scotland are independent regulatory bodies and it is up to them whether or not they grant general extensions of licensed hours if they consider it appropriate to do so in connection with a special event of local or national significance.”


Launching a public consultation on the proposal south of the border, Home Office minister Chris Philp said that such an extension would ‘ensure that licenced premises in England and Wales wishing to host a viewing of the match and potential post-match celebrations are able to do so’.

Very specifically, under section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003, approval for the proposal would see an extension to opening hours on the days of the semi-final (9 and / or 10 July) and the final (14 July).

Said Philp: “The extension would be contingent on England, Wales and/or Scotland reaching those stages of the championship and would not take effect should none of these teams reach those stages of the tournament.”

Welcoming the proposal, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Euro 2024 is set to be a huge event for hospitality businesses next summer as fans pack pubs and bars to cheers on the home nations.

“We support the Home Office proposals to extend licensing hours for the semi-finals and final, should we reach that stage of the tournament. Major sporting events provide a huge revenue boost and extended hours are essential to allow venues and fans to take full advantage.

Nicholls added: “This sort of advance planning benefits fans, businesses and the Government, and is exactly the type of approach we have been advocating for in our engagement on this issue for many years. I’m pleased the Home Office is consulting well in advance, acting on our calls on behalf of the sector.”