FOOTBALL fever is set to hit the Cotswolds as the first matches in the 2014 World Cup kick off in Brazil today.

With licensing laws relaxed during the tournament to allow pubs to stay open late during some England matches, landlords are hoping it will bring more punters through the doors and provide a real boost for business.

England’s opening game against Italy on Saturday is due to kick off at 11pm and the Kingsbridge Inn, on Bourton’s Riverside, is celebrating with a special party.

Landlord Tony Hughes said they were serving Italian pasta and pizza for England’s first game, which will be ticket only and licensed until 1am.

“Every pint we sell is a bonus to us at that time,” he said. “Everybody is looking forward to it. We’re putting on free food before games.

“We’re going to have a proper party and just enjoy the game. It’s going to be good, it comes around once every four years so you get people out which you don’t see. They will come out especially for that which is good.”

Mr Hughes said they were getting into the spirit of the international tournament by showing all the games on wide-screen televisions, not just England matches.

“We’re showing all the world cup games we canshow,” he added. “It’s not just one team, it’s the whole world. We get a lot of different tourists in from different countries.

“A lot of my locals said they will have their head in their hands if England getknocked out early but it won’t matter, people will still watch it and pick another team and support them.”

William Saunders, co-owner of The Swan Inn, Moreton, said everyone is looking forward to the start of the tournament.

“I reckon it will bring in more sales, it’s the World Cup, it brings people out left, right and centre,” he said. “I reckon it will be busy.

Football is a bit of a passion of mine. It’s a bit like rugby, any international, everyone gets together and relates to it and being a national team.”

Baggy Saunders, who owns the Horseshoe Inn and the Black Horse Inn, both in Shipston, said they were showing some of the games – but also offering an alternative.

“We shall be showing the England games in the Black Horse in the Flag Stone bar,” he said.

“The Horseshoe Inn will be a football-free, chill out zone.

“Hopefully it will be a great success. I think we will gain quite a lot of business and lets hope England do well.”