David Prosser: World Cup may not be an open goal for pubs

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The Independent Online

Outlook It is accepted wisdom that next month's football World Cup will be a boon for Britain's pubs, with England fans flocking to the boozer to cheer on the boys en masse.

One man, however, does not share this analysis. Adam Fowle, chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers, thinks that other than for England games – and we are only guaranteed three of those – football fans are likely to do their World Cup boozing at home in front of the telly.

Mr Fowle is pessimistic because he expects the supermarkets to bombard people with cut-price alcohol promotions with which he and his colleagues in the industry are barred from competing. He has a point: compared to the pressure there has been on licensed premises regarding binge drinking, the retail industry has got away lightly.

For M&B, where food has become as much of the focus as drink, a disappointing World Cup may not be so devastating. For much of the beleaguered pub trade, however, the tournament represents a bright moment in dark times. If that turns out not to be the case, this could be many pubs' final campaign.

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