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High Court to settle pub hours wrangle; LANDLORDS HOLD FIRE OVER WORLD CUP SPECIAL LICENCE BIDS.

Byline: ALAN HARRIS

COVENTRY pubs are pinning their hopes on a High Court decision to help them screen England's early kick-off games in the World Cup.

Nearly all magistrates nationwide have vetoed pub pleas to open early after being advised to follow "case law".

The Magistrates' Assoc-iation is advising justices to reject applications because the World Cup is not classed as a special occasion and cites case law dating back to the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

But Coventry landlords are hoping an appeal by a Bristol pub, which was refused extended hours by Bristol magistrates, will work in their favour to please football fans.

Eddie Sheridan, chairman of Coventry Licensed Victuallers' Association, is expecting a flood of applications for extended hours from city pubs should the appeal succeed.

He said: "The Magis-trates' Association does not regard sporting occasions as a special occasion, even though it's a national team representing the country in the World Cup.

"The World Cup is all about big community spirit and you have to get the community involved in things like this.

"If the High Court overrules Bristol magistrates' decision then I would imagine there would be quite a few applications from Coventry pubs."

Northampton magistrates are the only magistrates to defy advice from their own national association by granting pubs permission to open early.

More than 30,000 of the nation's 64,000 pubs hope to open early because of the eight-hour time difference with Japan and South Korea.

Mr Sheridan is advising Coventry pubs to delay applying for extended hours until the outcome of the High Court appeal.

He said: "I've advised my members that if they want to apply, then apply, but it's a risk.

"If they want to save money, then they should wait until the court's decision comes through, which my members are doing so far."

CAPTION(S):

'COMMUNITY THING': Punters cheering on the England team at The Wallace Hotel in Keresley during the 1998 World Cup; ADVICE: LVA chairman Eddie Sheridan
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Mar 15, 2002
Words:332
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