After months of enforced closures and strict restrictions, landlords have extended a warm welcome to thirsty fans who are keen to spend money and stay late to celebrate English victories.
Bob French, who runs Number Fifteen in Doncaster, was forced to close the pub for 206 days last year, but it has been popular with football supporters during the tournament and table bookings for the final went in just eight minutes after England beat Denmark on Wednesday.
“There’s been a great atmosphere and it’s good for the town. Everyone has become more positive and it’s brought people back together,” he said.
“We’re at nearly quarter our capacity, because obviously everyone’s sitting down, but it’s good to see everyone back and everyone being joyful.”
The Sportsman in Huddersfield began showing live sport after landlord John Fletcher extended the beer garden and installed a big-screen TV earlier this year, when Government restrictions prevented him from serving customers inside.
He said: “We’re doing okay and despite the restrictions, we’re covering costs, but these matches and the beer garden have given us a shot in the arm.
“We get a decent injection of cash, rather than just ticking over.
“Away from the financial side, if you run a pub you want people in and having a nice time. The atmosphere for the football has been fantastic, it’s been really nice.”
During the final tomorrow, when Gareth Southgate’s side will take on Italy at Wembley Stadium, fans are expected to buy more than 7m pints, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.
However, the trade association has warned they are also set to lose out on nearly £9m in beer sales during the match, due to the Government restrictions.
Tom Stainer, the chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “They will undoubtedly see an increase in sales, but I think it’s important to note that increase is nothing like what you’d have expected in normal circumstances.
“It’s important to remember this is just helping pubs get out of that deep hole they’ve been in. They’re not okay, they’ve not been making huge amounts of profit.
“They still need support from customers and support from the Government until they’re fully out of this and they’ve managed to pay back loans and they’re not burdened by debt anymore.
“A lot of them have run up big debt during lockdown. It cost a lot just to keep a pub shut. Licensees have taken out loans and they’ve had to defer payments to landlords they rent the pubs from.”
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, added: “While this has brought a much needed boost to the nation after the past 18 months, our pubs and bars are still in a fragile state after more than a year of severely disrupted trading and closure, and current restrictions curtailing any boost in sales from the football.”
Ms Nicholls has also welcomed the Government’s decision to relax licensing laws for tomorrow’s eagerly-awaited final, as it means pubs will be allowed to stay open until 11.15pm tomorrow in case the game goes to extra time and penalties.