Stars of women’s football were at the bar – and behind it – for the opening of the Red Lioness pub.
BT Sport has teamed up with Greene King to turn the Red Lion pub in Moorgate, London, into the Red Lioness for the next two weeks.
The pub’s transformation is part of a drive to celebrate women’s football and to encourage pubs to do more to help the game grow.
TV stars Clare Balding and Reshmin Chowdhury joined Arsenal’s Danielle Carter and former England internationals and pundits Rachel Brown-Finnis, Fara Williams and Claire Rafferty at the launch on Thursday (November 7).
Guests got to hear from the stars, take part in a pub quiz hosted by Rachel and Reshmin, enjoy Red Lioness beer and get their names printed on BT Red Lioness shirts. The pub has also been given a makeover that includes women’s football photos and memorabilia adorning the walls, giving guests a journey through the history of the game.
And it isn’t just the Red Lioness, already 749 more Greene King pubs have signed up to back BT’s Pledge to support the game by showing live matches, promoting them and making their pub inclusive for all.
Speaking at the event, Reshmin said: “This is a really exciting new initiative. The Red Lioness Pledge is to make women’s football available in as many venues as possible across the country. It’s about time, isn’t it?
“We are about to embark on a really exciting period in women’s football. I genuinely believe that the Women’s World Cup was the start of something special. People watched the game and realised that nobody here is making up the numbers: women’s football is competitive and exciting.”
There will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy women’s football over the coming weeks with England hosting Germany at a sold out Wembley (Saturday November 9), then playing the Czech Republic (Tuesday November 12). There’s also the North London derby on Sunday November 19, which is live on BT Sport.
The derby is one of a minimum of 30 live women’s football matches on BT Sport this season.
Rachel Brown-Finnis, England’s former number one, said the Red Lioness initiative is great for the game.
“As part of the Pledge with BT pubs across the country are going to screen women’s football to make it more normal. If you go into a pub and watch women’s football or men’s football – it’s all football.
“Usually it’s the Red Lion and tonight and for the next two weeks it’s the Red Lioness.”
Danielle Carter added: “It’s a great thing for people to be able to come in to a pub and watch the game without having to ask to put it on, it’s just normal. It’s eradicating some of the things around the game and making people aware of women’s football because there is definitely more buzz around it from the world cup.”
Clare Balding said that she hopes that many more pubs will follow suit and sign up to The Pledge.
She said: “I love the new branding of the Red Lion as the Red Lioness as it amplifies the support for the Lionesses as they expand their fan base.
“The sold out game at Wembley is just the start of a major wave of support for the women’s game in this country. Pubs have always been a place where people congregate to watch football and I hope many more will join the Red Lioness Pledge.”
Pubs can sign up to The Pledge at btsportprint.co.uk/redlioness
Those that sign up will receive a window sticker along with Point of Sale to help promote FA Women’s Super League and international fixtures.