Scotland versus Germany kicks off an on-trade summer sports bonanza

Beer on a bar
Tennent’s have issued a batch of classic red T tankards to accompany the EUROS, as seen here in Malones in Edinburgh

Scotland’s sporty summer truly begins today, as the Scottish National Football Team kick off the EUROS tournament by taking on host nation Germany.

However the Scotland squad fare against the opposition, that eye-catching tournament will run on into mid-July, where it’s final games will overlap with the Tour de France and Wimbledon, which in turn will give way in August to that sporting behemoth, the Olympics.

All in all, the auld alliance between national sport and the on-trade is going to be thoroughly exercised this summer.

No single brand is more closely identified with the Scottish National Football team than Tennent’s, with a supportive relationship dating back almost half a century to the 1974 World Cup in West Germany; since then, they’ve been through thick and thin with the Tartan Army, albeit more of the thin than the thick until recently. But as they say, it’s all about ‘embracing the journey because supporting Scotland isn’t easy’.

Here, SLTN quizzes Kenny Gray, on-trade director at C&C Group, about the prospects for the summer ahead.

C & C’s on-trade director Kenny Gray

Is there a worry that this embarrassment of sporting riches running in parallel will deliver less of a boost to venues than if these contests were at distinctly different times of year? 

Kenny Gray: “The modern sporting calendar is typically packed, and we’re used to a non-stop few months of action every year. Scotland have obviously qualified for the EUROs which is massive, and we also have the Olympics, which will stretch the summer of sport into August.

Venues will undoubtedly be busy with consumers looking to catch a glimpse of the action, but there’s no cause for concern about lack of impact. Major events will help to drive footfall, as will warmer weather, and venues might not need to work as hard to encourage consumers into outlet over this period.

Operators can instead look ahead and plan for the autumn into the winter when domestic sport will be well and truly back in action for those looking for a football fix in particular.”

Is it a concern that non-sports fans might find their usual pubs and bars less welcoming as a result of wall-to-wall sports coverage?

 Kenny: “Operators worried about this can make provisions by considering what, where and how they show each event. Owners and bar managers will also know their clientele and their preferences, which will help inform how to approach the period.

“The EUROs and Olympics are mega events this summer, but beyond that it’s a typical few months and operators will be well versed in how to handle them. The Scotland matches in particular are going to be moments that transcend sport and should offer great opportunity for people to come together, regardless of their interest in sport.”

A man plays with a football in the street
Staff at Malones, in Edinburgh’s Haymarket, have a kick around ahead of tonight’s first EUROS match: “Our tanks are full of unpasteurised Tennent’s and official tankard glasses are ready and waiting to be filled (and let’s face it, probably stolen)”

Any tactical / practical advice for venues hoping to please one demographic without alienating the other?

 “Owners and bar managers will also know their clientele and their preferences, which will help inform how to approach the period. Practically speaking, there will be options on how much sport to show – it doesn’t necessarily need to be every minute of every match. Or there could be simple ways to dedicate spaces for people desperate to watch the action, while saving some room for those who aren’t as keen. Ultimately every venue is different, and operators will need to make decisions based on their knowledge and relationship with their customers.”

Which drinks categories and/or serves do you predict will prove particularly popular among UEFA Euro fans as they visit pubs and bars during the tournament? 

“Sports events generally see close association with beer, and over half of the population choose it as their drink when watching football. Brands like Tennent’s are synonymous with football and people coming together in celebration, and as the nation’s favourite beer it will undoubtedly prove popular throughout the tournament. This year with Scotland qualifying early, it will be a key occasion for fans as we enter the summer and it presents a huge opportunity for the trade.”

Aside from stocking the right products, what other advice can you give licensees to help them make the most of the tournament? 

“Being planned to welcome fans into venues will be key throughout the summer. Looking at the schedule will help inform when bars are likely to be busiest, which will also help to determine everything from stocking to staffing. Building in dressing will help showcase venues as must-visit venues during the tournament, and our football-focused POS kits are perfect for the job. There will also be a limited edition Tennent’s tankards, inspired by the EURO host nation, hitting the trade, which will add to the atmosphere.”