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03 July 2018

Can the World Cup boost sales and team spirit?

world cup

The flags are flying, the office sweepstakes are sorted and World Cup fever is being linked with boosting consumer confidence on the high street - not to mention the sales of millions of extra pints.

Many pubs have invested heavily to coax football fans out of their living rooms and away from their devices to watch the big games at their local.

Landlords have gone all out - one plastering his pub with 300 flags, another building a miniature grandstand while others splash out on big screen TVs.

Despite the CO2 shortage, pubs are among the big winners, business-wise, selling millions more pints during popular matches, according to the latest estimate from the British Beer and Pub Association.

A Bank of England survey last week also suggested retailers expected the World Cup to boost their sales in the next year - particularly of alcohol and electronic goods.

Its chief economist, Andy Haldane, cited the tournament as one of the factors influencing the "feel-good factor" behind a bounce back in consumer spending.

While concrete evidence of the tournament's economic impact is hard to come by - the accepted wisdom is that the longer England stay in, the better for those English small businesses hoping to benefit from the feel-good factor.

But while they might hope to get a slice of the action, they should be wary of some potential legal pitfalls, if they want to avoid penalties this summer.

First up is the tricky business of intellectual property.

Football governing body FIFA closely guards its trademarks - which are listed on its website.

"Official marks" which are protected include the emblem, the trophy, FIFA's corporate mark and the official wolf mascot as well as a variety of phrases including: FIFA, FIFA World Cup, 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, World Cup and Russia 2018.

Businesses which are not official sponsors risk having action taken against them if they use its trademarks without authorisation. Even retweeting FIFA content "for commercial purposes" could cause problems.

FIFA says it is "not opposed to businesses benefitting from the thriving economy" around the World Cup but suggests using "generic references to football" or country-themed images instead. 

Secondly, if you are showing World Cup matches, you need a TV licence or you could get fined £1,000.

It's not just pubs and bars at risk. Any small business owner who decides to boost staff morale - or maybe reduce unexpected absences - by allowing them to watch the matches at work, will need to make sure they are covered.

TV Licensing has created a TV in the Workplace viewing guide for businesses to print out, fill in and stick up, so everyone knows where they stand.

One thing to be aware of is that, technically, even those without TVs could potentially foul of the rules, thanks to the rise in people watching sporting events on their phones or tablets.

A spokesman for TV Licensing said: "Staff and customers are covered by their TV licence for their home address to watch live TV, or BBC programmes on iPlayer, on any equipment as long as it is powered by its own internal batteries.

"If they continue to watch, but plug a device such as a phone or tablet into the mains, a licence is needed for the place it is being used."

Away from its profit-boosting potential, small businesses will also need to consider how best to manage staff who are heavily invested in the tournament.

While none of England's games have been played during traditional office hours, many staff work evenings and the interest in other matches is huge, particularly if you have an international workforce.

So businesses owners may also want to talk to their employees in advance, to make clear their policies on the use of mobile phones and devices in work, unplanned absences and, for businesses which can accommodate it, flexitime for those who want to take time off to watch a match, so everyone knows where they stand.

And for those looking to get into the spirit of things - it can also offer an opportunity to work on a bit of workplace wellbeing.

As well as building camaraderie around the office television, organising some five-a-side games is a good way to build teamwork, get a bit of exercise - and make the most of the good weather!