Wetherspoons is set to screen World Cup football matches in its pubs across the country for the first time ever, but under strict guidelines from bosses.
The company has confirmed that the vast majority of its 850 pubs will be showing the international tournament, with only a “handful” of its locations not televising matches due to not having screens.
But in pubs that are screening the games, football fans will have to watch without commentary as the matches will be shown without sound and will have subtitles enabled. The move will adhere to the existing setup at the pub chain where news is usually played quietly in the background outside of World Cup season.
Wetherspoon said its decision to screen the tournament with subtitles only was made out of respect for customers who are not interested in football.
The popular pub chain welcomes around two million people to its pubs each week which are known for being free from background sound and music. However, the pubs do occasionally have sound on with sport and the final decision on falls to the manager of each individual pub who may decide to allow the volume to be turned up for the England and Wales games.
Wetherspoons spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Wetherspoon will be showing the World Cup matches in its pubs. There will only be a handful of pubs not showing the games as they do not have screens.
“As always the sound will be switched off for the games as there will be a lot of people who are not interested in watching the game or hearing the commentary. It will be up to the manager’s discretion if they wish to put the sound on.”
A total 64 matches will be played over the next four weeks until 18 December when the World Cup final will be broadcast at 3pm.
Wetherspoons pubs to be sold off
JD Wetherspoon confirmed in September that it had made the “commercial decision” to list 32 of its pubs for sale after warning it could face losses of £30 million due to rising staff wages and repairs. The pub chain announced another round of closures last month, bringing the total number of venues set to close to 39.
Spokesman Eddie Gershon previously said: “On occasion, Wetherspoon does put some of its pubs up for sale. This is a commercial decision. We understand that customers and staff will be disappointed with it. The pubs will continue to operate as Wetherspoon outlets until they are sold.”
The venues are being marketed by commercial property specialists CBRE and Savills, and include sites in London, Durham and Middlesbrough.
A spokesperson said the sell-off was a "commercial decision" and that the venues would continue to trade until a buyer was found. If no sale can be agreed then the venues will stay open as normal Wetherspoons.