The Three Lions tax: is it fair for pubs to charge 50p more for a pint during England matches?

Name: Three Lions Tax.

Cost: Between 10p and 50p.

Appearance Almost invisible.

Of course. This government is always trying to pull the wool over our eyes. We should … This has nothing to do with the government.

What’s it about then? “Three Lions” makes me think it must relate to that immortal band of heroes who have come to heal our nation, the England men’s football team. That’s right.

Outrageous! This England squad should be tax-exempt for life, and all five penalty-takers instantly made dukes. Or maybe just an earldom for Henderson. No, no. You’re getting this all wrong. The “tax” in question is not being paid by the players, but by the England fans who watch matches at pubs owned by the mighty Stonegate group.

What kinds of pubs are we talking about? Walkabout, Yates, Popworld …

I see. Massive, rowdy booze barns. You might describe some of its establishments that way. Certainly the footage that emerged from Walkabout in Sheffield on Tuesday night, and after the Tunisia win, was … atmospheric.

I remember. What great fun they’re having. And, of course, there was that business outside Walkabout in Plymouth, when one fan celebrated by jumping on to, then falling off, a moving car.

That kind of fun is not so great. It’s a good metaphor for England at World Cups, though.

True. Although we’re going to win them all now. Yeah … Anyway, the point is that Stonegate has raised drinks prices by as much as 50p a pint during England matches, to the consternation of the Sun, which first reported it.

I see. And is consternation justified? Stonegate doesn’t think so. A spokesperson said: “Event pricing notices are displayed in certain venues.”

That sounds suspiciously vague. The spokesperson added: “It is common practice … to implement event pricing when big events take place.” Apparently, it is needed to cover the cost of hiring more staff, using plastic glasses, cleaning up afterwards and so on.

But hang on a minute … won’t the pubs also make more money because they sell more drinks? Yes, that’s a rather good point. In fact, Stonegate recently said it expected to make an extra £6m from this World Cup.

You would think that would buy a few plastic glasses. You would. What’s more, not every big venue raises drinks prices during matches, and at least one pub industry expert says it is not “common practice” at all.

Still, if people choose to pay, they choose to pay. It’s like Uber surge pricing, I suppose. Sure. And everyone loves Uber right …? Oh.

Do sing: “Thirty pence more hurt/Never stopped me drinking.”

Don’t sing: “It’s on at home/It’s on at home/It’s on at/The football’s on at home.”


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