Pubs praying for barnstorming Rugby World Cup after Champions League takes a dive at the tills, reports Worldpay

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Pub landlords across the UK have been left crying foul over a lack of British interest in Saturday night’s Champions League Final after seeing sales take a dive for the 2014 match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Data from Worldpay, the UK’s leading payment processing company, shows card transactions during 2014’s all-Spanish Champions League Final were actually down5% versus an average Saturday evening. With this year’s Final set to be contested by Spanish giants Barcelona and Italy’s Juventus, landlords fear being caught offside as football fans stay at home.

Meanwhile some insiders have claimed the decision to move the Final of Europe’s top club competition from Wednesday to Saturday may be contributing to the disappointing return at the tills.

Thomas Gloyne of the Broker Freehouse, Leigh on Sea, said: “Holding the Champions League Final on a Wednesday night was good for business as it bought in extra mid-week customers who might otherwise be at home. Moving the Final to a Saturday, when we tend to get a good crowd in anyway has meant we miss out on extra revenue during the week, without seeing any real difference in trading on the Saturday, particularly as there’s been no British club contesting the Final for the past couple of years.”

After a year to forget for English football teams, pub and bar owners are now pinning their hopes on a strong performance by the Home Nations at the Rugby World Cup in September. According to Worldpay’s data, international rugby remains a strong draw for the hospitality sector. Card transactions in pubs during England’s 2014 match against Scotland were up 16% compared to an average Saturday, making it one of the most profitable sporting weekends for the sector.

Dave Hobday, UK managing director of Worldpay, said: “One look at the Barcelona team-sheet suggests it might be a couple of years before we see another British team challenging for the Champions League Final. It might be premature to stop paying the TV licence just yet however, with the Rugby World Cup offering an opportunity for pubs showing live games to cash in.

“With rugby fans from all corners of the world set to descend on cities across the UK in September, savvy bar owners will be planning now to avoid a scrum at the bar on match days. Contactless technology has really proven its worth as a way of making the payments process smoother and easing congestion at the bar. Equipping staff with mobile point of sale devices to offer table service for large groups on match days can also help reduce the pressure on bar staff at peak times.”