Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

World Cup success? Little chance

England fans might have to make the most of the early rounds, according to Government officials

Government officials have called time on England's World Cup hopes before "Roy's Boys" have even boarded a plane for Brazil.

A Home Office impact assessment on late-night drinking during this summer's tournament says there is a "high probability" the squad, unveiled only yesterday by manager Roy Hodgson, will not play in "later matches".

England's poor chances were taken into account when considering whether to extend licensing hours in pubs during the event, which will see matches kicking off throughout the night due to time-zone differences.

The impact assessment said: " While England are certain to be playing in the matches in the first period, there is a high probability that they will not be playing in the later matches."

Odds from gambling website Betfair.com, which imply England have a 54% probability of progressing past the group stage and an 11% probability of progressing past the quarter-finals, were used by officials in their assessment.

Last night in the House of Lords, Labour's Lord Rosser highlighted the comments, saying: " So it's good to know what the Government thinks of England's prospects.''

Home Office minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach said the comments in the paper were ''a matter of opinion''.

He added: ''I'm sure other peers will have different views on that issue."

Hodgson unveiled his 23-man squad for Brazil yesterday, and it included 20-year-old Everton midfielder Ross Barkley and teenagers Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: " Because we want everyone to get behind the England football team this summer, the Government has extended licensing hours so fans can watch England games in pubs.

"As part of the process for changing licensing hours, the Government is obliged to carry out a formal impact assessment.

"As part of that assessment, officials used odds from Betfair to estimate the probability of England playing in the knock-out stages. The Government is of course 100% behind the England football team and we wish the players every success in the World Cup."

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