Whitecraig Super Bowl party gets the go ahead

Thursday January 26th 2023


NFL fans enjoy watching a previous game at the Mercat Grill, Whitecraig.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A Super Bowl party which will be held into the early hours of the morning has been given the go ahead after a licensing board chief admitted he is a big fan of the sport.

The Mercat Grill, in Whitecraig, applied to extend its drinks licence until 4am on the day of the annual American sports event so fans could watch live in the pub.

Police Scotland objected saying the Super Bowl was not a ‘special event’ and therefore did not qualify for an exception to the normal drinking hours.

At a meeting of East Lothian Licensing Board on Thursday morning however, councillors rejected a plea from police to ban the party.

Councillor Lachlan Bruce, board convenor, told the meeting: “I am a die-hard fan of American Football and the Super Bowl is a special event.”

Graham Blaikie, who runs the Mercat Grill, told the board he has run Super Bowl parties in the past, including one last year which was granted an extension by the board, without any incident.

This year he asked the board to extend the number of guests allowed from 40 to 50 maximum but said that would be the biggest number which would ever attend.

He told the board his customers were “tickled pink” to be able to watch the Super Bowl live locally instead of having to travel into Edinburgh where some pubs have permission to show it live.

He said: “We believe the Super Bowl is a special event of local and national significance.

“We have a number of patrons who regularly watch American football in the pub and this is also a chance to thank them for supporting us through the challenging times.”

The Super Bowl is second only to the UEFA Champions League final as the the world’s most-watched single sporting events, while its half-time show has seen iconic performances from The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder among others.

Super Bowl Sunday sees fans worldwide marking the event with parties.

In a letter to the board Chief Superintendent Catriona Paton said the position of Police Scotland was that it was not an event of great enough significance to warrant a change in licensing hours.

She said: “The applicant has indicated that the extended hours requested are required to facilitate the televised viewing of the American football Super Bowl Final 2023.

“It is the position of Police Scotland that this event does not fulfil the criteria of being a special event or occasion to be catered for on the premises, or a special event of local or national significance.”

The board was told the extension to the licence to allow the pub to remain open until 4am with alcohol sold up to 3am, on Monday, February 13, would be for a ticket only event hosted by Mr Blaikie which included a meal and commemorative t-shirt for those who take part.

The board unanimously approved the extension with Councillor George McGuire telling colleagues: “This supports an East Lothian business which promotes American Football which, I think, is bigger than we realise.”

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