Let's make the new football season the best yet for the On-Trade! We think the key to attracting people into the trade for football, is making it about more than a game, creating a great atmosphere, engaging with customers and offering an experience unique to the trade.

The atmosphere is critically important to sports fans. It’s likely the most crucial factor in your potential customers choosing where to watch a game. Beyond that, a great atmosphere can improve dwell time, increase spend per head and leave guests with positive thoughts of your outlet. Producing an outstanding atmosphere isn’t the easiest, it is comprised of many elements working together. Getting the right equipment, perfecting your drinks range and generating some excitement all play critical roles.

Football, and specifically the Premier League, is the most significant driver of sales in the On-Trade, with the average pub seeing incremental sales of more than £30,000. The world’s greatest league is home to some of the globe’s most exceptional players and after the relative success of the England National team this summer, the 2018/19 season could be one of the most widely enjoyed in recent years.


1 - It’s never been easier to create awareness that you’ll be showing major sporting events. In outlet use chalkboards, posters and displays to promote upcoming fixtures. Get some good POS to show your outlet is ready. Our Design Studio team have produced a range of templates that can be used for all of your POS needs. ocial media is an excellent way to connect with people local to your business, highlight your events and drink promotions. If you haven’t already, make sure you have a Facebook for business account and take advantage of its easy advertising tools. For example, selecting ‘promote your business locally’ will allow you to advertise directly to football fans within a mile of your outlet.

Find out more about Social Media training  

2 - It’s going to be a busy start to the season so make sure you increase your orders so you don’t run out of your key lines – brands such as Budweiser, Carlsberg and Heineken are sure to be big sellers. If you’re eligible for Matthew Clark Promotions then make sure you view your promotions brochures online by clicking here. Whether it is bar blades, branded glassware or a pack of soft cask pegs, ensure that you have all the equipment you need to make trade flow without a hitch. We work with Innkeeper Suppliers to offer exclusive prices and next day delivery through MC Innstock.

Order equipment at MC Innstock  

3 - Your staff will need to be the winning team in your outlet, so make sure you've got the right team for the busy fixtures. Labour costs are typically the largest expenditure for any hospitality business but the last thing you want is too few staff on shift to efficiently serve the volume of customers in your business, potentially missing out on sales. Take all the sporting fixtures into account with your rotas and use a tool such as S4 Labour to save on unnecessary labour spend.

Find out more about S4 Labour Management  

4 - Have separate staff for stocking up and glass collecting. Make sure you brief your staff so they know exactly where they should be and what they should be doing. Ensure that your staff are fired up and ready to go, your staff play a core role in setting the atmosphere and energy within your venue. Small things, like having them stick on a football top, can do wonders for setting the tone and showing that your venue is embracing the occasion as much as your guests. Brief all staff on potential upsell opportunities – you could always offer some incentives to get them geared up and motivated to sell, it’s surprising how much offering a staff reward can boost your sales.

Download our Upsell Cheat Sheet for staff  

5 - Ensure all screens are in full working order and positioned for optimal viewing making sure you have comfort for the smaller games and lots of space for the big crowds with the larger fixtures. Check projectors prior to big events to ensure no last-minute disappointment. CGA data suggests that football fans emphasise the quality and availability of screens in venue when making the choice about where to visit. While sticking with technology, take advantage of a special offer with MatchPint, an online and mobile service used by thousands of fans to find somewhere to watch a game.

Find out more about MatchPint  

EPL fixtures provide an average value sales uplift of 14% to the trade.

45% of sports fans arrive between 30 minutes and an hour before kick-off, lengthening the drinking time.

Football is the biggest driver of sales in the on-trade, with the average pub seeing incremental sales of more than £30,000.


Raffles and Sweepstakes

For the busier fixtures, add some energy, excitement and anticipation with a scoring raffle. Have a selection of tickets with number 1-90, and hand them out to people who buy a drink before kick off time. If a goal is scored in that minute the customer wins a drink or a prize of your choice. It does mean you'll be giving away a few pints, but it will certainly offer guests an extra level of excitement and another reason to always return to your outlet for the big games. For less popular games, sweepstakes can be used to ensure people stay the course and engage with the fixture. Have customers pick a name out of a hat as they arrive and if that player scores during the match they win a drink or a prize of your choice. Guests will often stick around for the fixture with the potential of a free drink, increasing dwell time and spend in your outlet for a fixture that may have failed to captivate.

Stamp Collections

We think a powerful way of encouraging your football customers to return is through a stamp collection. Offer your guests the change to claim a stamp after a purchase and explain that for every drink they buy during EPL fixtures gets them a stamp. Once they have collected six stamps they can claim a free pint. Who wouldn't want a free drink? You may find that scheme such as this encourage more sales during the fixture as people attempt to accrue stamps as quickly as they can, and of course, ensure they visit you throughout the season.

Return Bookings

Informing customers they can book tables for the next game while they are still reeling in the excitement of the match they have just watched can increase future footfall. You can do this through advertising the option via in-outlet POS or by having staff offer to save them a space for next time while serving drinks after the game. If the customer has enjoyed a great atmosphere and feels they have received great service during their visit, they are likely to take you up on the offer. Encouraging bookings in this manner can make sure that you retain regular custom throughout the season.

Table Service

64% of consumers say table service would encourage them to watch football in the On-Trade, according to data from Carlsberg. Many people will watch the quieter games at home so why not give them a reason to come out by offering table service. It gives people a real treat and they don’t have to get up whilst watching the match. Even for busier games, where we often find that customers will limit purchases to not risk missing a vital bit of the action, table service can work to increase sales. The easiest way to do this is to have a member of staff roaming the floor and checking for almost empty glasses, then offering to grab them one for the bar. You can leave a bill and collect payment later, or even equip your staff with money belts.

Food for Thought

With surface space at a premium for your guests during the busy fixtures, why not offer a special football menu that features hand-held options. As well as reducing the pressures on your kitchen staff, serving simple items such as burgers and hot-dogs will give your guests a better experience. You could serve them in takeaway style boxes or paper wrapped for easy handling. Customers who are hungry at half time will not want to wait long for food. At a set price, a member of staff can walk around the outlet with a box selling them. Quick profits at the same time as keeping customers happy! Many football fans may already be wishing that they didn't have to cook something when they get home, so think about arranging a food promotion to give them the extra push they need.


Lager has further tightened its grip over the share of serves during football occasions - now at around 50% of all beer. The lager being consumed has however increased in value. Draught Standard Lager has been falling in the On-Trade with consumers trading up to premium beers. World lager now accounts for 1 in 7 beers consumed on football watching occasions in the on trade. 44% of people watching sport in the On-Trade drink lager, a further 19% Pale Ale and 12% Craft Beers.

Order World and Craft Lager at Matthew Clark Live  

We often find that during a game, customers will purchase one beer before kick-off and then a second at halftime. Serving draught beer in pitchers and bottled beers in buckets is a great way to increase sales as customers don't have to return to the bar as often, and risk missing a vital bit of the action. Not only that, but it will ensure happier customers as they will be queuing at the bar less. Offering pitchers and beer buckets will also ease pressure on the bar during the busy periods, and helps to add a little bit of theatre to the whole experience.

Order beer buckets and pitchers at MC Innstock  

Consider utilising a focused Football drinks list. This list should contain buckets of beer and four-pint pitchers, encouraging guests to share and save while also starting ‘rounds’. Handing a customer this focused menu, complete with your world and craft beer selection, when at the bar immediately turns there attention to choosing one of these drinks, serves that should be ones that make you more margin. Remember, the vast majority of consumers have not chosen their drink by the time they reach your bar or take their seat, giving you the opportunity to move them away from considering a standard lager.

Find out more about our bespoke menu design service  

Key Dates

4 Aug: Start of SPL and EFL Seasons

5 Aug: FA Community Shield

9 Aug: Transfer Deadline Day (England)

10 Aug:  Start of EPL Season

12 Aug: Arsenal v Man City (EPL)

13 Aug: Start of the Carabao Cup

15 Aug: Start of FA Women’s Super League

18 Aug: Chelsea v Arsenal (EPL)

27 Aug: Man Utd v Spurs (EPL)

31 Aug: Transfer Deadline Day (Europe)

2 Sept:  Celtic vs Rangers (SPL)

6-10 Sept: International: Uefa Nations League

15 Sept: Spurs vs Liverpool (EPL)

18 Sept: Start of Champions League Group Stages

20 Sept: Start of Europa League Group Stages

27 Sept: Chelsea v Liverpool (EPL)

View all fixtures: EPL | SPL |  EFL  |  WSA

 Other guides: Rugby | Tennis  | Grand Prix | American Football

We hope that you've found our Football guide useful. Matthew Clark is here to help you in making this Summer of Sport the best summer yet for your outlet, so if you have any questions, comments or require any extra assistance, get in touch with your account manager or contact us here