Showing football matches in pubs from 4 July

Government guidance on showing football in licensed premises


The new guidance released by the Government for licensed premises seeking to re-open from 4 July deals with entertainment provided in premises, including showing broadcasts. Given that the football seasons across the leagues have been extended into the summer, with all Premier League matches on TV (as well as some matches being shown on terrestrial TV for the first time ever), showing football will no doubt be something many premises would like to do. We have considered the guidance in order to give an overview on the Government’s advice.  

Overview

The position is that showing broadcasts, including football, has not been prohibited by the guidance, subject to mitigation being put in place as set out below. As such, we consider that showing football matches is permitted with additional safeguards being put in place.

These measures include:

  • Proper social distancing/strict adherence to the rules on group sizes
  • Mitigation/information put in place to prevent (as far as possible) shouting, cheering, raised voices and breaching social distancing  
  • Risk assessment of potential issues arising from showing such broadcasts, such as additional customers arriving or departing at the same time, crossover between customers coming and going on days where more than one match is shown, queuing and other potential issues of increased numbers of customers/members in attendance
  • Proper consideration given to peak times, such as ordering drinks at half time.

All of this will need to be covered in the premises risk assessment prior to opening.

"Entertainment" in the CV19 guidance

The guidance states as follows:

"At this time, venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience…

In addition, all venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult." 

This means that whilst there is no prohibition on showing football matches per se; the obligation has been put on operators to ensure that broadcasts (which would include showing the football) do not encourage shouting, as well as the new restrictions, set out below.

Therefore if you are showing football matches you will be required to demonstrate an element of control over customer behaviour. As such, showing football will require risk assessing as part of your overall re-opening risk assessment.

What will you need to do?

Firstly, you will need to ensure that you comply with any conditions on your premises licence, especially if you are considering putting televisions outside, as licences can restrict such usage or prevent outdoor speakers etc. If you cannot comply, you will need to seek a variation to your licence before you can show football.

Secondly, you will need to comply with the CV19 restrictions on customer interaction/ distancing:

If outside:

  • Groups of no more than 6 (with social distancing/mitigation)
  • Support bubbles (2 families max) don’t require social distancing
  • 2 household groups together (with social distancing/mitigation)

If inside

  • Support bubbles (2 families max)
  • outside of Support bubbles, 2 household max, (with social distancing/ mitigation)

Social distancing requirements

There is no change to the usual 2m rule where viable or 1m with mitigation (I metre+) in all other circumstances.

Specific to showing football

The following will need to be considered in terms of general principles you will have to apply for all matches and you may also need to consider other factors, such as local team involvement, derbies, key matches, etc. on a match-by-match basis.

The guidance requires you to ensure that the broadcast is unlikely to cause shouting, and that it is at a volume that would not cause raised voices. Low volume levels and clear messaging for customers watching matches will be needed to ensure that this is the case. This might include:

  • No or very low volume on the TV
  • Marked areas for standing if you have large screens and signage requiring customers to be seated/observe 2m or 1­m+ with mitigation
  • Signage requiring customers to respect the no shouting/raised voices rules
  • Clear signage at the door so that customers understand what will be required during any matches being shown
  • Ensuring that customers are informed of all rules on entry and agree to abide by them
  • Strict control on numbers of attendees
  • Consideration of dealing with usual peaks in service, such as half-time.

We would also suggest that it is made clear that any breaches will require customers to leave or the matches to be switched off if you cannot persuade customers to abide by the rules. It is therefore essential that all staff understand the rules and that all customers are prepared to buy into them.  

Other matters to consider

  • There is a general obligation, where possible, to try to control customer arrival and departure of customers by using an advanced bookings system. Where this is not possible, you will need to take into account that you may get people turning up for kick off of matches that could breach the social distancing requirements it they are let in. Consider how this will be managed, especially for popular games.
  • Customers coming to watch the football may stay longer than other customers, so ensuring any people queuing are made aware of this will assist in ensuring there is no frustration.
  • There are a number of days where there are multiple matches. As such, there may be pinch points in terms of customers coming and going between matches that will need to be considered. It might be necessary to notify customers attending a specific match that they will be asked to leave straight after.
  • You have an obligation to keep a record of all customers coming into the premises to allow for tracing in the event of a tracking agent calling. This will need management. It is also a good time to remind customers of the rules you will be operating under during the matches.
  • You are required, where possible, to notify customers in advance of any rules you will be applying. Given that showing football will require additional rules for staff and customers, it would make sense to highlight this on your website so that no-one can argue that you have not undertaken the necessary risk assessment/ mitigation steps to ensure compliance.

Possible updates to the guidance

It might be that closer to 4 July, the Government expands upon their advice for showing matches, or if it is considered to be too high a risk, that they specifically ban the showing of live football broadcasts. However, at this time, this advice should allow premises intending to show football to put in place the kinds of measures that police or council inspectors will require.

We will update further if the guidance changes.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at July 2020. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions


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