Pubs rush for licences to open for Brazil game

Employers urge staff to be responsible as millions prepare for the early start of Friday's England match
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The Independent Football

Hundreds of pub landlords were making emergency applications for liquor licences yesterday to cater for football fans on Friday morning, when England take on Brazil.

Hundreds of pub landlords were making emergency applications for liquor licences yesterday to cater for football fans on Friday morning, when England take on Brazil.

Although a legal ruling permits pubs to open early during the tournament, many publicans had applied only for first- stage matches because they doubted England's chances of qualifying for the last 16.

Karen Kelshaw of the British Beer and Pub Association said: "There wasn't a great deal of confidence before the tournament started. Some publicans applied for a licence for the whole tournament but applications for single games were processed quicker at the magistrates' courts. Now many landlords are finding they are having to go back to the court time and again."

Morning drinking, normally the preserve of desperadoes and nightshift workers, has become socially acceptable for the World Cup. About 25,000 pubs opened for an estimated four million people for the match against Nigeria, which kicked off at 7.30am, the same time as England's clash with Brazil.

The quarter-final clash in Shizuoka is England's biggest match since they were beaten by Germany in the World Cup semi-final in 1990.

Because of the timing, broadcasters expect between 13 and 15 million Britons to watch the game, compared with 17 million for the Denmark game at Saturday lunchtime and the record 25.1 million who watched England against Germany in 1990. A BBC spokeswoman said: "It's a tricky one to call. It's the biggest game of the tournament so far but the timing is difficult."

England's progress in the tournament has cost British industry an estimated £2bn in lost productivity, and business leaders have sought responsible attitude from employees.

For the Argentina match on 7 June nine out 10 companies polled by the Chamber of Commerce in London reported a "significant level" of staff on leave although absenteeism was low. Stephen Crabb, campaigns manager at the Chamber of Commerce, said: "There should be little problem with people getting to work but it is a question of whether they stay there if England win."

Motoring organisations predicted that between 7am and 9am on Friday roads and public transport would be almost deserted. Kevin Delaney, a spokesman for the RAC Foundation, said: "Because it is a Friday people will find any excuse to start the weekend."

Bets on the match are expected to be a record-breaking £20m, with bookmakers William Hill predicting the amount will be greater than money spent on the World Cup final. The previous record of £15m was set when England beat Denmark.

If Sven Goran Eriksson's side beat Brazil they will be visited by Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Tony Blair is expected to fly to Japan if England reach the final.

For lesser mortals the chance of a trip to the finals is fast receding. Travels agents reported hundreds of bookings after England reached the knockout stage but there are few flights remaining. BA was asking more than £1,300 for a return flight. Semi-final tickets for Saitama including hotel and flights were available on lastminute.com for £3,655-£6,285.

PELE, MOORE AND BANKS 10 ESSENTIAL FACTS

England have played Brazil 20 times. England have won three games, and the Brazilians nine. There have been eight draws.

England won the first meeting 4-2 at Wembley in 1956.

They did not win again until 1984, with a 2-0 victory in Rio de Janeiro, secured with the help of a Brazilian-style dribble and finish by John Barnes.

Roberto Carlos, the left wing-back, has the thickest thighs in Brazil's squad, at 24in in diameter. His bulging leg muscles were developed pulling farm machinery as a child.

The sides have met three times in the World Cup: they drew 0-0 in Sweden in 1958; four years later Brazil won 3-1 in Chile; and in 1970 Brazil won 1-0 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The 1970 match featured the "greatest ever save" when Gordon Banks flung himself to the right to touch away a Pele header. Pele was already turning away shouting "goal".

Pele called Bobby Moore the greatest defender in the world, and the shirt Moore wore against him in 1970 is one of his most prized possessions.

The meeting at Wembley in 2000, a 1-1 draw, was one of the last at the stadium.

Brazil, now favourites, scraped through the qualifying campaign, losing six times.

England also struggled to qualify, only making it with a final 2-2 draw against Greece.

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