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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Pub withdraws St George flag ban
England followers at Euro 2000
Arena is concerned the flag is associated with football violence
A pub chain has withdrawn its ban on licensees flying St George's flag during the Euro 2004 championships.

Arena pub managers were told the banner had "connotations of football violence" and could put off customers.

But brewer Mitchell and Butlers (M&B), which owns the Birmingham-based chain, now says the advice was sent out by an "over-zealous" company official.

A spokesman said Arena pubs are welcome to fly the flag during the tournament.

Patriotic paraphernalia

Jeremy Probert, from M&B, said: "Unfortunately, sometimes we have people who are slightly over-zealous, people who really want to do the best by their pubs and guests, and this sounds like one of those because this is not company policy.

"Company policy is about flying that flag in Euro 2004 above our pubs."

The Arena chain boasts 142 pubs around the country and will be screening all of England's matches.

It emerged on Wednesday that the firm was concerned that bunting and other patriotic paraphernalia will put off occasional customers and those with no interest in football.

Arena company executive Jeremy Skingley sent a memo to managers expressing the fear that pubs in the chain could develop a "male-dominated, highly charged, terrace-style football atmosphere" during the tournament, which starts on 12 June.

He wrote "To this effect, it is strict company policy that no St George's flags should be displayed during Euro 2004.

"Unfortunately, the St George's flag has negative connotations of football violence."

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