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Football World Cup: Licensing top tips for the tournament

With the FIFA World Cup, hosted by Russia, running from 14 June to 15 July, now is the time to ensure that you are ready to make the most of the Festival of Football.

Pubs and Clubs

General rules on showing football

Whilst showing live sport does not require a licence in and of itself, and with all games kicking off during what will be normal trading hours, there may be no need to make drastic changes to your licence in order to show the tournament. However, you might want to consider the following to ensure you are maximising the opportunities, whilst minimising risk.

General management

Early risk assessment of matches to ensure that proper levels of staff and door supervisors can be provided for games likely to be particularly busy, is essential. In particular, look at whether changes to the normal style of operation are needed to help ensure safety, such as using plastic/ polycarbonate glasses and decanting bottles or selling/ having a ticket system in place for particularly popular matches. Thinking about whether door staff are needed will also require early consideration as door companies are likely to be particularly busy.

Watch out for games that have a local rivalry element, such as Spain v Portugal in the group stages and any fixtures in the knockout stages that would fall into this category. They often can be busier than expected and rivalries can sometimes be problematic. If in doubt, the police often provide advice if they suspect a particular problem might be associated with a match. 

It makes sense to ensure that there is a clear incident management plan in place for particularly busy matches. At the very least, all staff should know what is expected of them if an incident does occur. Ensuring that there is a senior member of staff is on duty to manage the situation is a must. 

Remind staff that serving customers who are drunk is a criminal offence. It is good practice to document that you have done this in order to have a due diligence defence should the police allege that you or your staff have been serving customers already drunk. Many people who don't usually come to the pub will do so and many people will drink more than they ordinarily do. As such, proper management of customers is necessary to avoid trouble and ensure that everyone enjoys themselves. Remember, there are lots of games and so ensuring there is a lively but safe atmosphere for the early games will pay dividends later in the tournament.

Using advertising/customer packages to your advantage

Advertising ahead of schedule and offering a 'package deal' of food and guaranteed tables for particular games can be a means of trying to ensure customers arrive early and you have an idea of likely popularity of any particular games. It's a great revenue driver if you can offer a complete package - albeit you will need to take into account the law on drinks promotions (below) and take care using the world cup trademark.

Premises layout and busy premises

Giving consideration to customer flow and likely pinch points around your premises can prevent frustration if the premises is particularly busy. At the very least, you can arrange the furniture to try to improve circulation for customers to get to the bar, toilets and see the screens. Give particular thought to the rush before the match, at half time and potentially at the end. 

Have you considered whether any outside areas need any additional monitoring? Likewise, do you need to consider managing customers leaving after matches, particularly if it is later in the evening and, for instance, a match has gone into extra time or penalties? Thinking about your neighbours and how to ensure they do not get overly disturbed in advance will be greatly appreciated by them. 

Premises licence considerations

It is your duty to ensure that all conditions on the premises licence can be complied with. If the conditions on your licence would prevent you either showing the matches or otherwise operating as you would like, then look at getting TENs. The first games are coming up quickly, so get them in as soon as possible.

Drinks promotions and mandatory/other conditions on the premises licence

Drinks promotions must comply with the mandatory condition on all premises licences. In particular, pay attention to ensuring promotions do not fall into the banned drinks promotion categories, such as free or heavily cut price drinks if England score a goal, or all you can drink for an entry fee.


Be aware that children are likely to want to watch the football and may well either try to get served themselves or have over 18's buy alcohol for them. Reminding staff of your challenge policy and enforcing it, as well as ensuring floor staff and glass collectors keep an eye out for under 18's drinking, are good means of demonstrating you have put thought into trying to prevent this.


Off- sales of alcohol in England and Wales are not as strictly regulated as they are in Scotland. It goes without saying that you will want to check the matches timetable and ensure that you are properly stocked in advance of particularly busy games; however, you might also want to consider:

Discounts and special offers

As premises licence holders, you will need to ensure that any offers or discounts do not breach the mandatory condition on sales of alcohol below taxable cost, or breach a specific condition on your premises licence relating to minimum unit price. 

In addition, ensuring promotions could not be considered to appeal to children or condone or encourage excessive drinking can prevent PR issues or lead to trouble with the advertising standards authority.   


It is worth reminding staff to comply with your challenge ID policy and considering putting up additional challenge policy signage for the duration of the tournament. Also, documenting that this has been done ensures that you have a due diligence defence should there be any failed test purchases or allegations of sales to underage customers. 

Sales to persons who are drunk

Awareness of the law in relation to selling alcohol to someone who is drunk is essential. Should England win matches, you may find that there is a rush by England fans to continue their celebrations, but the offence of selling alcohol to drunks applies as much to off-licences as it does pubs. 

Other council initiatives that may need considering

Giving thought to whether your premises is situated within an area designated by the council for restricted public drinking (DPPO) is no bad thing. If it is, you may want to consider putting notices up to this effect, reminding customers that alcohol in open containers may be confiscated. Whilst the confiscation of alcohol is a matter for the police to determine on a case by case basis, if you are the only off-licence in a particular area, demonstrating that you are working with them to look to prevent street drinking may pay dividends in terms of reputation as a responsible seller. This doesn't mean you cannot sell alcohol, as it is for each customer's individual responsibility to abide by the law once away from the premises.


The World Cup has traditionally been a time of celebration and coming together. Giving a little thought to how you manage the likely increase in custom in advance can ensure that you have a safe, successful and profitable World Cup. 

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at May 2018. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.


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