PUBS will be able to stay open after normal hours to show England’s World Cup matches with late kick off times this summer, Home Secretary Theresa May has confirmed.
The national extension of licensing hours will only initially affect the team’s opening game against Italy, which kicks of at 11pm on June 14.
England’s two other group matches against Uruguay and Costa Rica kick off at 8pm and 5pm respectively, but if the team reach the knockout stages with 9pm kick offs the relaxation could come into play again in the event of extra time.
Mrs May’s announcement comes after Prime Minister David Cameron overruled Home Office minister Norman Baker’s initial rejection of calls for pubs to stay open late to show the match against Italy.
The move is good news for England fans looking to celebrate the team’s victories or, as many pundits may say is more likely, drown their sorrows in defeat during this summer’s tournament in Brazil.
In a written ministerial statement, Mrs May said: “The Government has consulted on whether to relax licensing hours nationally for England matches with late kick off times during the FIFA World Cup in June and July 2014.
“Following this, the Government has decided to relax licensing hours nationally to mark England’s participation in the tournament.
“The relaxation of licensing hours will relate to the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises and the provision of late night refreshment in licensed premises in England, at specified dates and times only.”
The Home Office previously rejected a request from the British Beer and Pub Association asking for an extension of licensing times to 1am for the Italy game.
Mr Baker turned down the proposal, leaving pubs with the option of applying individually to local authorities for a licence extension through the temporary event notice system - at a cost of £21 each.
But the Prime Minister ordered a rethink.
Ministers have the power to relax the rules to mark an occasion of “exceptional international, national or local significance”, as was done for the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee.
In an effort to curb problem drinking, supermarkets and other shops will be barred from selling alcohol at below-cost price from April 6 under new licensing restrictions brought in for the World Cup finals.