Brits will shun Black Friday sales and skive off work hoping to watch England and Wales take a fast-track to World Cup glory.
Up to 18 million are expected to tune in to roar on the Three Lions in Friday's second Group B match against the USA knowing a victory will propel England into the last 16 with a match to spare.
Wales could all but clinch their place in the latter stages too by beating Iran in the 10am kick-off.
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The prospect of a double dose of Brit success promises to make it a Slack Friday for store bosses hoping to cash in on the traditional pre-Christmas discount day.
Shopping malls and retail parks are set to be empty as millions snub the sales for the Qatar soccer showpiece – despite it being payday.
Tills will jingle in pubs instead as staff slope off work early to get ready for England’s 7pm kick-off.
According to the British Beer and Pub Association 20 million pints will be necked across England and Wales during the football fest.
Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “There really is no better place to enjoy a game than with a pint in hand at the pub, so we’re encouraging people support two great British institutions at once by cheering on England in their local pub.’’
The booze-fest will give the ale industry a £100 million shot in the arm as its battles to recover from the Covid-19 lockdown.
Fans in Wolverhampton will get the best value for money with the average cost of a match pint in the Midlands town just £2.50 – the cheapest in the country according to a survey by online bookmaker Betting.com.
Londoners face the costliest beer at £6-a-pint.
That will be around half the cash Three Lions’ fans who have jetted to Qatar can expect to pay in the Gulf state’s bars.
Another £200m will be splashed out on supermarket food and drinks for house parties.
But there will be a £190m slump in Black Friday shopping due to empty stores in the evening, according to a GlobalData Retail studies for VoucherCodes.co.uk.
England manager Gareth Southgate said his team is determined to put the nation back on the map’ and bring backour respectability’.
But he warned his players would have to make history’ if they are to beat the US. He said: “Have we ever beaten the States in a major tournament? No.
“So tomorrow we have to try to make history.’’
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Harry Maguire, who like injury-doubt captain Harry Kane will be fit for the match, said he will be really proud’ to win what will be his 50th cap.
“It’s a huge honour every time I put my shirt on. It’s such a proud moment for myself,’’ he said.
“Being picked for your country is a huge privilege. It is the pinnacle of anyone‘s career to play in major tournaments for your country, World Cups in particular. It’s the biggest tournament in the world.’’
Shops in Wales will be empty for much of the day due to their early game.
Most Welsh schools will scrap lessons to screen the action.
Football-mad workers have been throwing ‘sickies’ at record rates, employers say.
Businesses have been consulting legal advisors amid concerns staff are taking dodgy days off to see the games at home while they should be at their desks.
One legal firm says it has had a 250% surge in inquiries from bosses about their legal position if they suspect their employees are bunking off.
Chris Macwilliam, head of employment at Clough & Willis Solicitors, said the company had a spike in calls after England’s opening 6-2 drubbing of Iran on Monday (Nov 21).
But he said he did not want to be a killjoy’ and hoped England would bring it home’.
As many as 11 million employees could take a dodgy day during the course of the Qatar World Cup, which will take four weeks to complete, according to a YouGov Poll.
England are odds-on 4-7 favourites with bookmaker Coral to beat the USA, 1-7 to top their group and 13-2 to lift the World Cup.
Wales are 11-10 favourites to defeat Iran and 6-5 to qualify.
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