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A Bristol pub landlord began a high court bid to be allowed to show four early-morning World Cup matches today in w...
A Bristol pub landlord began a high court bid to be allowed to show four early-morning World Cup matches today in what may prove to be a landmark case.

Martin Gough runs the White Hart Pub in Brislington and wants to show high-profile games, some of which involve England.

But on 28 February 2002, local magistrates refused him a licence extension, preventing him from opening his pub for early-morning games to be beamed in from the far east.

Today his barrister, John Saunders, asked the lord chief justice, Lord Woolf, to decide whether the magistrates were 'entitled' to turn down Mr Gough's application.

He said that at the moment pubs aren't allowed to open before 11am without special permission, and under high court case law the World Cup is deemed unsuitable for a licence extension.

The most important one dates from the 1978 World Cup, but Mr Saunders claimed there was a vast difference in watching habits between now and then.

Mr Saunders added that numerous licence extension applications had been turned down across the country, but some, most notably in Birmingham and Northampton, had been accepted.

Citing the World Cup as a time of 'national celebration' he told Lord Woolf and Mr justice Harrison to consider the 'principle' of licencing rather than Mr Gough's individual case.

'Customers will be able to watch the matches at home but will choose to go to the premises for the totally different experience of watching with a group of friends in a public place,' he added.

The barrister told the judges that Mr Gough is planning to show four early-morning matches from Japan and South Korea on two big screens measuring two-and-a-half metres square.

He added that the pub regularly shows Premiership matches, and was a popular place for watching football.

Mr Saunders continued by saying that it wasn't only men that enjoyed going to watch games at the pub, and groups of women were already making plans to take advantage of possible early opening hours and special breakfasts.

He also said that customers would be able to enjoy raffles for the best seats in the house and football-related items - and money raised would be going to charity.


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