Government Says, Relax. Home Nations Will See Relaxation Of Licensing Laws For Euro 2024

Licensees around the country have cause for celebration a little early as today, the government confirmed it will relax Licensing Laws for the semi-finals and final of the Euros for licensed premises to avoid repeating problems which surrounded Women’s World Cup 2023 final.

The laws in question, the Licensing Act 2003, will be relaxed for matches involving England and Scotland for the semi-finals and finals of UEFA Euro 2024 which will be good news to thousands of publicans, hospitality managers and licensors around the country. Not forgetting the millions of fans who will benefit too.

Andy Grimsey, senior associate solicitor at Poppleston Allen, said:
This relaxation means that if the England and/or Scotland football team is successful in reaching the semi-final or final of Euro 2024, then on-licensed premises already licensed to sell alcohol until at least 11pm would benefit from an extension to those hours until 1am. This would be an automatic extension contingent only upon either England or Scotland (and no other team) reaching either the semis or the final.

“If the teams were knocked out at the semis, then the extension would not apply to the final. The extension also does not apply to off-licences or off-sales from on-licensed premises, nor to regulated entertainment (DJs and live music, for example). Late-night refreshment would only be extended in premises also licensed for on-sales of alcohol.

“In summary, a typical pub or bar already licensed until at least 11pm will be able to sell alcohol (and provide hot food if already licensed to do so) until 1am for the semis in which England or Scotland are participating, and the final if either win the semi. The semi-finals are 9 and 10 July and the final is on 14 July 2024. The relaxation only applies in England and Wales.”

The decision comes after the government consulted on later trading hours for pubs and bars for the UEFA Euro 2024 football tournament, taking place in Germany across June and July. Draft legislation has now been laid before Parliament in time for the law to have effect for the Euros.

James Anderson, partner at Poppleston Allen, said:
“The Licensing Act allows extension of hours on occasions which are of ‘exceptional national or international significance’ and will be activated should England or Scotland make any of these games.

He continues: “This legal relaxation was last used for the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, which saw many premises being allowed to extend their trading hours for two hours between 11pm and 1am without the need for a Temporary Events Notice to give them the licensing permissions required.”

This is great news for the trade as Euro football tournaments can give licensed premises a significant boost. And this will avoid the highly publicised problems which surrounded last year’s Women’s World Cup where the Lionesses took on La Roja. Kicking off at 8pm in Stadium Australia in Sydney, this was beamed live across the UK from 10am, but many premises did not have the permissions to open or sell alcohol at that time which significantly impacted their takings during a difficult time for licensed venues.

CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said:
“CAMRA was pleased to support this extension when it was first proposed, and it’s great to see Government listen to consumers and the on-trade, and back our local pubs and clubs in this way.

“Cheering on your team, in the atmosphere of the pub, surrounded by friends and local community, is an experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Recognising the unique nature of the pub in this way is a much-needed boost for licensees, who have faced an uphill struggle to remain profitable in recent years in the face of spiralling costs.

“I know Parliament is currently looking at making this kind of licensing extension easier in the future which CAMRA strongly supports. Creating a more responsive mechanism for licensing hours alterations would let pub-goers celebrate the full range and diversity of UK sporting achievement – not just the men’s Euros 2024.”