20 MARCH 2002

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Early games mean slack business for World Cup bars

By Ray Abdilla

Bar owners are bracing themselves for lean trade during this year’s World Cup finals. Not only will they be battling an economic slowdown, but the early-morning timings of the matches also mean they are unlikely to find this year’s footballing bonanza to be the guaranteed money spinner it usually is.

The matches are set to be played in Japan and Korea, mostly during the morning, at 6.30am 7.30am 9.30am, noon and 1.30pm.

Many establishments will think twice about opening as early as 6.30am, while problems are also caused by the sunlight affecting vision on a big screen, making it unsuitable for viewing in the daytime.

Recently some of the Bugibba bars and restaurants met to see what they planned to do about the situation. Most of them agreed that the best option is to open according to which game is being played.

"If it England, Italy, Germany, Brazil or Holland who are playing then it might be worth screening the game, if not then we’ll open up during our normal hours," one shop owner said.

A spokeswoman from the Victoria Pub in Bugibba said that they normally open at 10am.

"We might start opening up before but it depends. Perhaps we’ll hold another meeting with other shop owners which will finally decide what to do," she said.

Most of the shop owners are certain that they won’t make the same money they would if the games were taking place in Europe.

"Most of the games are being played when people are at work, or when they are waking up, which will make it very difficult for the bars to expect the usual clientele," one said.

Meanwhile in Paceville, the hub of night entertainment, some places might opt not to close at night and remain open for the morning game. But the majority will make this decision on who’s playing. The "Roulette" pub in Paceville normally opens at 10am. A spokesman for the pub said that if there’s a good game on, especially if England are involved, they will open earlier.

"If the feedback is good, then we will continue to open up early, if not we’ll revert to the normal 10am opening hours," a spokesman said.

Hanks is another popular place for football viewing. A spokesman said that they definitely won’t be opening early morning during the week because the majority of people will be at work.

All in all, businesses are not expecting the money to roll in from the football games. In fact, some even believe they will lose night-time trade since people who plan to get up early to watch the games might not go out late at night. Others pointed out that they sometimes lose out bars in villages where illegal pools exist. Another competitor takes the form of the foreign football supporters clubs that there are on the island.

It remains to be seen whether, as expected, people opt to sit at home in their pyjamas with a coffee to watch the majority of the games or, as many bosses fear, phone in sick for the crucial ones.



Copyright © Network Publications Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07, Malta
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