England expects …

England supporters are finding this World Cup very difficult to predict.  Just thinking about the group stage presents positives and negatives in equal measure.

We have a good team … but they are a little inexperienced.  We just lost to Italy … but the Italian coach said we were great.  Uruguay must be rubbish because they just lost to Costa Rica … or maybe Costa Rica are actually quite good.  Raheem Sterling will light up the tournament … or get himself sent off.

No wonder expectations are so varied.

However, at Ortus we have no expectations whatsoever.  Our business in the pub sector has taught us that predicting things is fraught with difficulty and the likely impact of the World Cup is a good example.

On the face of it there is a great opportunity for pubs to cash in on World Cup fever. The Government has got right behind this by granting late licenses to individual pubs for the one-off cost of £21.

So, surely this means a great few weeks ahead for English pubs.  Well perhaps.  If England make it into the knock-out stages then surely people will be piling into the pubs to savour the atmosphere.  Apart from the fact that the late kick-off times are making many publicans worry that people might choose the TV at home … especially on school nights.  If this happens they will lose customers.

And if England don’t make it through the group then that will be a disaster.  Maybe not.  If people have been staying at home watching England games on TV because of the late kick-off times, then pubs will see their regulars return.

All very hard to predict.

Well, at least in England we’ve got a team at the World Cup to support.  Surely in Scotland it’s going to be business as usual.  Actually not.  Wetherspoons have commented that they expect Scotland to be quite busy as people turn out in droves to support England’s opposition regardless of the kick-off times.  Apparently, the Scots consider that feeling knackered at work the following day is a tiny price to pay for watching England lose against Costa Rica.

And being humiliated by Costa Rica is a very real possibility, as the 1990 Scottish World Cup team can testify.

However, in the midst of all this uncertainty we do think there are ways of exerting some control.

For the publicans in major cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham, they can try to latch onto national teams they think will do well.  String up some flags and dish out the tapas to attract every Spaniard from miles around.  Empanadas for the Argentinians … bratwurst for the Germans.  Anyone know what Belgians like…?  Anyway, you get the point.

For the England supporter we recommend placing your faith in history.  After all, in the 2014 season Man U didn’t finish top 4, Fulham were relegated, Real won the Champions League and Atletico Madrid won La Liga.

When did all these things last happen? 1966.

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