'It's hard to plan' - Pub could bring back outdoor stands for Euro 2020

Paul Sandford at the Railway Tavern in Dereham has had world cup t-shirts for his customers marking

Paul Sandford at the Railway Tavern in Dereham has had world cup t-shirts for his customers marking the fixtures for England and Portugal. With him is daughter Martha Sandford. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Plans to host open-air viewing events during the Euros at a Norfolk pub have been thrust into uncertainty by the continuing doubt over whether coronavirus restrictions will ease on June 21.

In previous major football tournaments, Dereham’s Railway Tavern has hired outdoor stands and hosted crowds of 500 spectators per match, but landlord Paul Sandford said restrictions had made this impossible for the initial matches. 

Fans watching the England game against Panama in The Railway Tavern in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Fans watching the England against Panama during the 2018 World Cup at The Railway Tavern in Dereham - Credit: Archant

“We won’t be having the outdoor stands for the first two England matches, because of social distancing. You’re still only allowed 30 for outdoor gatherings,” said Mr Sandford. 

Fans at The Railway Tavern in Dereham. PHOTO: Ian Clarke

Fans at the Railway Tavern in Dereham during the 2018 World Cup. - Credit: Archant

He added that the lingering uncertainty over the Indian variant of the coronavirus had made it harder to plan. 

“It’s hard to plan anything to be honest, because I could say to everyone that we’ll put the stand up [from June 21] and then England could go out after the first phase, and we’ll be stuck with the stand. ‘Sod’s law’ says that would happen,” said Mr Sandford.

He confirmed however: “If they say on June 14 that restrictions are going to lift on June 21, then we will have the stand up for the last group game [on June 22].” 

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All of the Euro matches will be televised at the pub, but due to popularity, the England matches will be ticketed at £5 per person, with the profits going to local charities. 

England will first play against Croatia on Sunday June 13, with ticket profits from that first event going to Scotty’s Little Soldiers - a charity the pub has already raised almost £1,300 for during a live music event at the weekend.

Mr Sandford pictured in the marquee outside the pub.

Railway Tavern landlord Paul Sandford, pictured in December 2020 - Credit: Noah Vickers

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Ticket profits from the second match will go towards Nelson’s Journey, with charities for future matches yet to be chosen. 

The pub’s previous Euros viewing events attracted national media attention, and this year appears no different, with Sky Sports News set to cover the first two England matches at the pub. 

Mr Sandford said that after he publicised on Facebook that Sky had been in touch with the tavern, other outlets had also contacted him. 

“There’ll be quite a bit of media coverage, which will be good for Dereham as well,” said Mr Sandford.

Tickets will be available from Friday June 4 at 5pm, limited to one per person, and must be collected in person. 

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