England's In The World Cup Final, So Where's Our Bank Holiday?

It's the question everyone's been asking ever since the Lionesses' semi-final victory.
England's Lionesses set to take the country into the World Cup final for the first time since 1966.
England's Lionesses set to take the country into the World Cup final for the first time since 1966.
Eurasia Sport Images via Getty Images

It’s finally happening – the Lionesses got England into the World Cup final.

The hotly-anticipated match is set to kick off on Sunday at 11am (BST), as the women’s team go head to head with Spain, nicknamed La Roja (or the Reds).

But wait a second. An 11am kick-off means... pubs won’t be able to serve alcohol before the game begins.

And what if the Lionesses win? Will the rest of the country get a day off...?

Here’s the answers to these all important questions ahead of the crunch match on Sunday.

Will we get a bank holiday if England win?

You might remember that when Boris Johnson was in No.10, reports circulated that he was ready to declare an extra bank holiday if England won the Men’s Euros in 2021.

Asked if he would make the following Monday a national bank holiday, he said: “I think that would be tempting fate; let’s see what happens.”

England’s male team lost to Italy then.

Meanwhile, Lionesses did actually win the Women’s Euros last year, but the government still resisted calls for a bank holiday.

In fact, there’s never been an extra bank holiday to honour a sporting achievement after all.

Supporters wave England flags during the Women's Euro 2022 special event in Trafalgar Square.
Supporters wave England flags during the Women's Euro 2022 special event in Trafalgar Square.
SOPA Images via Getty Images

A House of Commons report dating back in 2010 estimated each bank holiday costs £2.9 billion for the national economy – and Rishi Sunak has made fixing the struggling economy one of his priorities this year.

And the UK already have an extra bank holiday this year for the King’s Coronation.

However, if the Lionesses did win on Sunday, they would become the first England football team to win a World Cup trophy since 1966, which is why some people think it’s worth a special day off.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a bank holiday, tweeting: “It’s almost 60 years since England won the World Cup. I’m never complacent about anything…but there should be a celebratory bank holiday if the Lionesses bring it home.”

Similarly, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said a final would “absolutely” deserve to be marked with a bank holiday.

On Thursday afternoon though, a government spokesperson told Sky News: “Winning the World Cup would be a massive moment for the country and make no mistake we’ll find the right way to celebrate.

“As [England manager] Sarina Wiegman herself has said, the first thing to do is focus on the final and the whole country will be rooting for the Lionesses this weekend.”

But, don’t get excited – the government is not expected to be considering a bank holiday for any post-tournament celebrations either.

Why is there a fuss about pubs, too?

Kick-off is at 11am on Sunday, meaning plenty of pubs won’t be licensed to serve alcohol in the run-up to the match.

A British sports final without booze from the very get-go? People are not happy.

That’s why the British Beer and Pub Association suggested a temporary pushback to allow “great British pubs” to start handing out drinks at 10am.

But, MPs need to approve such an “affirmative” statutory instrument to make this change across the country – meaning they’d have to return to parliament.

There’s been an eerie lack of action on the politics front lately because it is currently parliamentary recess, so it’s not exactly easy to get MPs back into the Commons to vote on changing red tape right now.

Pubs also have to apply to change their licensing hours too, usually five days in advance, according to the gov.uk website’s explanation of the Licensing Act.

Considering the Lionesses only won 3-1 against Australia on Wednesday, any pub would have been taking a bet on the England team if they put in their application to change their hours for a final before that.

Still, the Liberal Democrats have also pleaded for parliament to be recalled, so the law could be changed.

No.10 slapped that idea down, pretty rapidly.

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove just told councils to “continue everything they can” to approve individual pub applications one by one,

Meanwhile the Home Office just asked police to work with councils to “ensure as many venues as possible can participate” in marking the final.

So, if you’re that keen for a pint while watching the Lionesses do their thing, probably best to have that first one at home for now.


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