Football: Special occasion to bring out the best in the drinking classes

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The Independent Online
Pubs, clubs and bars across the land are expecting record profits tonight with England's game against Italy being shown live only on Sky, so denying terrestial fans the chance to watch the game from their armchairs if they want to see it as it happens.

There are almost 40,000 such drinking establishments in the UK, and they expect to make additional profits of around pounds 20m due to the sale of additional drinks and food. The brewers Carling expect a rise in sales similar to the one they experienced during Euro 96. Andy Sutherden, a Carling spokesman, said that then "volume in pub sales climbed by 28 per cent. We expect a similar reaction on Saturday".

Bars across the country are urging fans to arrive early in order to get a seat and avoid disappointment. Tom Gilman, manager of the Sports Cafe in Leeds said: "We are telling people to come down by 4pm."

Landlords across the country are getting into the spirit of the occasion. Marc Casey, owner of the Hobgoblin in Bristol, has transformed his pub to give a stadium atmosphere with surround sound speakers connected to two huge screens. "The pub's full of red, white and blue bunting and our famous 'Gazza's dentist chair' where punters down tequila shots," Casey said.

Billy Gilligan, landlord of the Scarisbrick Arms in Lancashire, is making a stand against Sky's domination of televised football. "We will be watching on ITV at 10.0pm. The windows will all be blacked out during the game and there will be someone on the door warning people not to mention the result. Anyone caught whispering the score will be shown a red card and be banned for four meals," Gilligan said.

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