South East Wales

Champions League: Cardiff businesses count the cost

Real Madrid fans in Cardiff Image copyright EPA
Image caption Real Madrid fans in Cardiff before the match

The Champions League final has been celebrated as a success but pubs and shops in Cardiff city centre said they have lost huge sums of money.

Many regular customers stayed away while traders said fans only arrived in the city centre late on Saturday afternoon.

One food shop owner said it was one of the worst weekends on record.

Pub and bar owners also criticised a message going out to local people to avoid the city centre.

Road closures and heightened security were in place, with 170,000 people expected in the city for Saturday night's match between Real Madrid and Juventus.

Mastercard had said it expected a 300% increase in card use based on previous Champions League finals in other cities.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWally's Delicatessen owner Steven Salamon said it was one of the worst weekends on record

Wally's Delicatessen, a family business in the city centre since 1947, had been geared up for a busy weekend with a special menu and it had hired tables and chairs outside for the occasion.

"It was very disappointing," said owner Steven Salamon.

"On the Thursday and Friday we saw trade at record low levels, and on the Sunday too. We ended up having to send staff home.

"It was one of the worst weekends in our history."

He said the numbers of fans on the streets were overestimated, with supporters not travelling in from London, Bristol and Birmingham until late on Saturday afternoon - and they also left the city quickly afterwards.

Residents were "encouraged" to stay away, he said, adding that briefings were dominated by security and road closures but had underestimated the impact on trade.

Mr Salamon said the city was used to coping with big sporting events with less impact on business but in future things should be "kept in proportion".

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Man selling scarves in Queen Street

Nick Newman, chairman of Cardiff's licensees forum, which represents 100 pubs and bars, said: "Albeit, it was a fantastic day for the city. But I began starting to realise on Friday there wasn't going to be quite the trade we were expecting and I was stating to get calls from colleagues.

"By Saturday morning it was clear it wasn't going to be what we'd expected."

He said some of the security arrangements were changed, including access to Westgate Street opposite the stadium, which were "completely different" to those presented at briefings.

Mr Newman said pubs and bars along there, which were normally extremely busy on match days, were hit as a result.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Away from the city centre, fans watch the game on a big screen in The Depot near Cardiff Bay

Mr Newman said up to now businesses had done well for events and they were well planned but what he "couldn't get his head around" was the "don't come to Cardiff" message to local people.

Other independent businesses were hit too, as shoppers stayed away.

A designer goods shop in the Castle Arcade tweeted: "I took £50 on Fri & £5 yesterday in the shop!! Can't wait for Cardiff to get back to normal. Really wanted to be positive & stay open but it was a total diff vibe to other events."

One Canton restaurant criticised one of the main sponsors for not turning up for a booking on Friday evening.

Another nearby tweeted: "Total wipe out for us this weekend - seems that the organisers had very little interest in local businesses."

Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive Jonathan Ford said organisers Uefa were extremely happy with the final.

As for future events, the FAW said it "may just be interested" in hosting Euro 2020 games after growing doubts over whether the new national stadium in Brussels would be ready in time.

More on this story