Swarms of England fans have descended on central London despite the pouring rain ahead of the team’s clash with Scotland in Euro 2020 this evening.
Hundreds of supporters wearing shirts and wrapped in flags have begun gathering at the ticketed fan zone in Trafalgar Square.
The area has been set up in a socially-distanced way for 750 key workers, with two large screens either side of Nelson’s Column. People draped in their country’s flags outside the fan zone sang and chanted in what one fan described as an ‘electric’ atmosphere.
Inside, England supporter Jamie Powell predicted a one nil win for the Three Lions but said whatever the result it will be an ‘enjoyable night’.
The 24-year-old sales representative from London said: ‘The atmosphere on the way here was electric. Everyone was singing.
‘It was really positive vibes. You see both sets of fan singing. It’ll just be quite an enjoyable night for everyone.
‘Even though it’s a big game I don’t think it matters with the England/Scotland rivalry, it’s going be good one.’
Police officer and fellow England fan Marni Oldfield, aged 23 and from London, said: ‘It’s nice to be out and to be able to watch it here (in the fan zone) like this.’
Wembley Stadium in north-west London will host 22,500 people for the game at 8pm.
The much-anticipated match, the 115th in international football’s oldest rivalry, is the first time the two sides have met in a major tournament since Euro 96, when Paul Gascoigne’s famous goal sealed a 2-0 win.
Swarms of England fans have descended on parts of central London despite the pouring rain ahead of the teams’ clash at Wembley tonight
Hundreds of supporters wearing shirts and wrapped in flags have been chanting and singing across the capital ahead of the match
The much-anticipated match, the 115th in international football’s oldest rivalry, is the first time the two sides have met in a major tournament since Euro 96 (fans pictured)
Fans are predicted to buy 3.4 million pints during the game, while a total of 14.8 million will be sold across England and Scotland on match day, according to estimates by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
Dozens of England fans took to Twitter to voice their excitement at their upcoming trips to boozers across the UK ahead of the match with one saying: ‘The good thing about tonight’s game is we can go to the pub, regardless of the result I’m expecting it’s going to be a class occasion.’
And another said: ‘All the lads working on site will be fizzing today, it’s Friday, it’s pouring with rain so they’ll get rained off just in time to go pub all day and watch England v Scotland.’
While another one wrote: ‘What a day to be rained off!!!! Let the madness begin.’
But some fans have been left disappointed as heavily-booked pubs have forced them to watch the match at home or at friends’ houses.
One unnamed fan said: ‘People are being overly cautious in a country that has the world’s best vaccine programme and as a result of the Covid regulations you have to book ages in advance.
‘My mates and I tried with five days to go till the match and came up blank over several boroughs in London. It’s a f****** joke.’
One England fan committed himself to supporting the team as he arrived prior to the UEFA EURO 2020 football match between England and Scotland at Wembley
Fans are predicted to buy 3.4 million pints during the game as Wembley Stadium in north-west London prepares to host 22,500 people
Hundreds of supporters wearing shirts and wrapped in flags have begun making their way to the stadium ahead of the much-anticipated clash
England fans gather outside of the stadium as Wembley Stadium prepares to host 22,500 people for the England vs Scotland game at 8pm
But the trade association warned that due to Covid-19 restrictions, including social distancing, rule of six and no standing, that beer sales will be reduced by almost 850,000 pints – causing a revenue loss of around £3.2 million for pubs across England and Scotland.
Chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association Emma McClarkin said: ‘Whether you’re supporting England or Scotland, nothing beats watching the game at the pub.
‘Given pubs have been closed or faced restrictions for more than a year in both England and Scotland, every little helps and is critical to their recovery and survival.
‘Given the delay in England to the lockdown and with rumours suggesting a similar delay could be coming in Scotland, it is a real great shame that fans will not even be able to enjoy the tournament without restrictions in the latter stages. All restrictions on pubs in England and Scotland must be removed as soon as possible for our sector to survive and recover.’
This comes as the Met Police’s football chief has warned fans not to travel to Wembley without a ticket.
Chief Inspector Joseph Stokoe said: ‘It’s a shame, it feels like there aren’t enough places for the fans to enjoy themselves, but that’s why the message has always been – if you don’t have a ticket, don’t travel.
‘Enjoy the match, enjoy the event locally, in a safer event… don’t come here, because unfortunately because of what’s gone on across the world, we’ve been unable to provide the amount of fan zones you might expect in normal times.’
Fans are predicted to buy 3.4 million pints during the game, while a total of 14.8 million will be sold across England and Scotland on match day, according to estimates by the British Beer and Pub Association
Mounted police patrol outside of Wembley Stadium as fans arrive ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match between England and Scotland
Police watch on as fans gather outside of Wembley Stadium ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match between England and Scotland
He said officers have been reminding fans that some Londoners are ‘still living under the fear of the pandemic’, adding that spreading the Met’s resources between fighting crime and policing the football is ‘a balancing act’.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has echoed the warning for Scottish fans to stay away from London, adding that coronavirus is not a fan of Scotland or England’s men’s football team.
She said: ‘I know these precautions are tiresome for everybody in every context and they’re particularly tiresome when people are trying to enjoy the normal pleasures of a football match.
‘But this virus, it doesn’t care about football – it’s not a Scotland fan or an England fan, it only cares about spreading from one person to another.’
Officers arrested two men on Thursday night, including a 25-year-old for indecent exposure in Hyde Park, before later releasing him.
Another man was arrested for attempted theft of a police officer’s hat, assault with intent of avoiding arrest and assault of an emergency services worker.
He is currently being held at a south London police station.