Wetherspoons U-turns on St George’s flag rule in its pubs for Euro 2024

Wetherspoons has given the green light for England flags to be flown in its boozers during Euro 2024, reversing a previous ban that sparked a massive row over patriotism.

The chain, affectionately dubbed ‘Spoons’, was embroiled in controversy back in 2018 when it told its watering holes to avoid hoisting the St George’s Cross – or any other nation’s flag – during the footie World Cup frenzy.

Back then, Wetherspoons had dished out bunting featuring all 32 competing countries to its pubs, with staff told not to put up England flags, which ruffled feathers and led to a social media backlash, with punters slamming the move as ‘petty’ and ‘unpatriotic’.

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In 2018, the pub giant effectively slapped a no-flag rule on its establishments during the global football showdown. Spokesman Eddie Gershon at the time explained to the Express: “We wouldn’t want an England flag being put up in the heart of a pub by a staff member.”

Chairman of Wetherspoons pub chain, Tim Martin is seen during an interview in London on June 14, 2016. At popular British pub chain Wetherspoon, the EU referendum debate is hard to avoid -- it's in the magazine given out to customers, on the company website and even on special anti-EU beer mats. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL / TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DARIO THUBURNBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin, pictured in one of his pubs, in front of a few Union Jacks

He added that while managers could decide if flags flew in staff areas, the company had provided international bunting for all to use.

Gershon also mentioned to the i newspaper: “What we have said is the same as Christmas trees and decorations. We have sent this bunting to all our pubs, but staff can’t go willy nilly adding anything they want to it.”

“What we aren’t looking for is for individual pubs putting extra flags up. So that one pub in Leeds might have a big England flag but another might not.

“The bunting is what we want people to put out. If they want them to put up a flag they can but we aren’t encouraging it.”

However, Wetherspoons has exclusively confirmed that its pubs will have the freedom to display England or Scotland flags for Euro 2024 if they so choose.

Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We want our pubs to be welcoming to all football fans and they will have bunting with the flags of all competing nations.

“Pubs are free to display Scottish and English flags as well, should they wish.”

Thanks to a change in legislation, establishments like Spoons will be permitted to extend their opening hours and serve pints until 1am, thanks to a special relaxation of regular licensing laws for Euro 2024.

This adjustment is anticipated to provide a much-needed economic boost to pubs nationwide as supporters flock to watch Gareth Southgate’s squad attempt to secure another major tournament victory.

As part of its expansion strategy, the pub chain is also building a £5m supersized pub in Newcastle. The plans also include a 26-room hotel next to the bar, which will be an extension of the existing Mile Castle Wetherspoons.