Minister predicts England v Scotland showdown in Euro 2024 final

MPs approved regulations to allow pubs to stay open for longer if either or both teams reach the semi-finals or final.

Scotland and England flags
Scotland and England flags (David Davies/PA)

A UK Government minister has predicted an England v Scotland Euro 2024 final, as MPs backed moves to allow pubs to extend their opening hours.

Venues in England and Wales will be allowed to stay open for an extra two hours until 1am on match days if either or both teams reach the semi-finals – or the final – of the tournament in Germany.

Home Office minister Chris Philp, moving the measures, told the Commons: “I’m extremely confident that one of those or even both of those teams will make it through.

Chris Philp
Chris Philp (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“In fact, I confidently predict it’ll be an England v Scotland final when it comes around.”

In a nod to chat in Westminster about a July general election, the minister joked: “That’s about the only thing it’s probably safe to predict at the moment given the fevered and febrile speculation currently under way around these parts.”

The semi-finals will take place on Tuesday July 9 and Wednesday July 10, with the final on Sunday July 14.

Labour MP Jeff Smith (Manchester Withington) said he had a “slight disappointment” that the extension would not cover the quarter-finals, given they begin on July 5 and there “may be other things to celebrate” on that day including “possibly a new government”.

Mr Philp replied: “Well, we have to strike the right balance and the criteria, I think, for using these orders are events of ‘exceptional significance’ and so we’ve chosen to draw the line at the semi-finals and the final.

“As for other events of significance that may be occurring around then, I’m afraid I’m as much in the dark as he is.”

MPs heard that police forces have raised concerns about the proposals, citing the “potential for increased crime and disorder”.

Mr Philp noted licensing is a devolved matter and it is for the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Department of Justice to make arrangements for an extension, adding: “I would strongly encourage them to do so.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson earlier this month said it was up to local licensing boards whether to allow pubs to extend their opening hours.

Mr Philp said normal licensing hours will apply in England and Wales for the semis and final if neither Scotland nor England reach that stage of the tournament.

For Labour, shadow Home Office minister Dan Jarvis said: “The Government, football fans and the hospitality industry can be all assured of the Opposition’s support for these regulations.

“And I wish both England and Scotland all the very best for the forthcoming tournament.”

MPs approved the Draft Licensing Act 2003 (Uefa European Football Championship Licensing Hours) Order 2024 without the need for a formal vote.