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Wembley pub to allow rival football fans to watch matches together – but only for women’s games as they ‘aren’t as violent’

A pub near Wembley Stadium will be able to welcome fans of rival teams after it applied to have the restriction lifted – but only for women’s matches as fans ‘aren’t as violent’ as in the men’s game. However, its attempt to show the games live on TV was quashed, after police warned it would be a ‘bad idea’ as it encourages ticketless fans.

The Arch pub sits on Harrow Road roughly half a mile from the national stadium. The pub had been operating under a raft of restrictions to prevent crime and disorder, predominantly around match day, capacity and noise limitations. The owner, Indes Bar, applied to Brent Council to have some of these conditions lifted.

The landlord, who has run the pub for the past eight years, told the council’s entertainment and licensing sub-committee (March 5) that some of the current restrictions ‘stop him from trading’. He urged councillors to allow the venue to broadcast Wembley games and nearly double the number of punters allowed in the garden on event days, as well as being able to welcome both sets of fans for women’s games.

Many pubs surrounding the stadium operate under strict rules, such as discouraging ticketless fans by not showing the games, only allowing in one set of fans or not selling alcohol an hour before a match starts until fifteen minutes after kick-off. PC Phil Graves told the committee that removing conditions on match days was ‘not the way to go’ and highlighted the premises ‘long history’ of breaching its existing licence.

Over the past six years, the pub has been issued five warnings from officers after being caught for multiple infractions, including overcrowding, not closing on a match day, and using the garden later than it is allowed. PC Graves described one of the incidents as ‘one of the worst recorded breaches on record’.

However, the licence holder’s solicitor argued that most of the warning letters were from many years ago and his client has fully complied with the conditions without any issues for the past two years. They said the police ‘can’t keep using these warning letters to hinder my client’s ability to trade’, with the ban on serving alcohol before and during the game meaning the pub can often lose trading time, whilst still paying bar and security staff.

The sub-committee ultimately agreed to lift many of restrictions applied for by the applicant, however, would not budge on lifting the alcohol ban an hour before kick-off or allowing the pub to broadcast games taking place at Wembley. The police claim this encourages ticketless fans, who were responsible for ‘storming the stadium’ at the Euro 2020 final, held in 2021, between England and Italy.

PC Graves said: “What we would like is for people to come to the stadium, have their drinks in the pub, and then go to the stadium to watch the game. The problems have been caused by fans without tickets, it’s the ticketless fans that were proven to be the reason for the riots at the Euro final.”

Following the decision, the pub will be allowed to have both sets of fans at the venue for women’s games after the police said it was ‘much lower risk’ than for men’s matches as the fans ‘don’t have the same violent mentality’. It will also be able to increase the capacity of the garden to 130 customers – provided this doesn’t increase the overall capacity from the maximum allowed of 380 on event days and 300 on non-event days.

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