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Sunday, February 25, 2007

London Pubs Head To Cardiff For Final.

Two London locals are set to be transported to Cardiff for the Carling Cup Final - lock, stock and beer barrel.

Sponsors Carling will be meticulously recreating Arsenal and Chelsea supporters' pubs inside two hospitality boxes at the Millennium Stadium to give fans the ultimate football viewing experience - in the pub with their mates and at the game at the same time!

The landlord and regulars from The Bailey in Highbury, North London, will represent Arsenal whilst customers from Riley's on the Kings Road, West London, will be hoping it's cheers for their beloved Chelsea.

Carling Cup Sponsorship Manager Richard Smith said: "Fans told us it's great to be at the game but sometimes if you can't share the big occasion with your mates in the pub, it feels like something's missing; so we set out to create the best of both worlds!

"We decided to recreate the pubs after inviting fans to the first ever 'Carling Cabinet' meeting where fans from the four Carling Cup semi-finalist clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs & Wycombe) came together to give us ideas to try to make the final better. It was a simple concept, fans told us they always wanted to go to the final but also felt drawn to watching the game in their favourite pub with their mates.

"Although nothing can replace being in the stadium and watching the big match live, getting all the lads along from your local is an obvious way of making things better. We thought we could go the extra mile and not only bring their mates but bring the whole pub to the stadium.

"The idea is that the box will look and feel as much like the local pub as possible - we will recreate the pub's characteristics and of course its landlord and a handful of locals will be there too to really capture the atmosphere.

"Meanwhile back at the pubs themselves we're working with Sky TV arrange a state of the art HD screening so all the fans back at base are having as close to a match day experience as we can make it."

The Bailey landlord Chris Paddock, aged 40, will host the HD session whilst assistant Sonia Christie, 43, heads to Cardiff armed with some of the pub's memorabilia such as photos of Holloway Road and Arsenal tube stations plus football souvenirs from the pub walls; likewise Riley's owner Vince Healy, 48, will lead a group of locals to the Millennium Stadium with historic photos of Stamford Bridge and other football treasures. Landlord Brian Moignard, 47, will host the HD session back at the pub.

The pub in a box is part of a collection of fan based activities, including the sponsor's decision to hand over its entire contractual ticket allocation of Carling Cup Final tickets to fans, repeating its initiative launched at the 2006 Final. This year almost 900 Chelsea and Arsenal supporters are set to benefit from Carling's not so corporate hospitality in a bid to ensure as many fans as possible get to the final.

More than 400 Chelsea fans and 400 Arsenal fans will receive the tickets and in a further step away from the traditional approach to hospitality, 200 of both sets of fans will be pre-match guests in the sponsor's suites at the Millennium Stadium.

In a further push to make the final more fan friendly, the sponsors have insisted the usual dress code in their hospitality areas is lifted on the day with fans encouraged to wear their club colours, jeans, trainers, scarves and flags.