An East Lothian pub has been given the go-ahead to host the county’s first official Super Bowl party despite police claims the global event was not “special” enough to warrant a late licence.
The Mercat Grill in Whitecraig applied to stay open through the night on Sunday, February 13, so fans can watch the American football event live in its bar.
Police Scotland objected to the plans warning it could set a precedent in the county and telling councillors it did not consider the Super Bowl a “special event” or of “local or national significance” – reasons to allow the extension.
However a meeting of East Lothian Licensing Board approved a 4am extension to the opening hours on the night with a range of conditions including a 2.30am last orders when patrons will be barred from ordering doubles.
Pub owner Graham Blaikie told a virtual meeting of the board that he had been showing NFL games for regular patrons for some time and wanted to host the Superbowl for “all local supporters who follow American football” and watch at his premises.
He added: “It is also a thank you and reward to all these loyal patrons who have supported our business during these Covid-19 pandemic times.”
Concerns were raised by board members about the decription of the event as a “party” however they were assured by Mr Blaikie that this was simply a term used to describe a Super Bowl gathering.
Police Scotland told the board it did not believe the Super Bowl was a special event which would justify an extension of licensing hours.
However board member, councillor Lachlan Bruce, a self-confessed American football fan, said he was glad to hear someone in East Lothian was showing games insisting it was a special event which brought people together to share the experience.
He added: “It is the biggest annual sporting event in the world.”
The board’s licensing standards officer, Rudi Fruzynski, also disagreed with police pointing to the exemplary record of the Mercat Grill since it was taken over by Mr Blaikie and his family 11 years ago.
Mr Fruzynski argued that premises which followed the rule should be rewarded.
He said: “I have no objections to a very well-run premises being afforded a little extra leeway in relation to licensing conditions.”
The board agreed to grant the extended licence limiting with conditions limiting numbers for the ticketed event to 40 people and barring double last orders.
By local democracy reporter Marie Sharp