WITH the Budget out of the way in good time, the City’s thoughts yesterday turned to the beautiful game, and England’s crucial third group clash against Slovenia.
As the crucial hour approached, bars and pubs filled to bursting point and the employees of more generous firms gathered in communal areas to watch Capello’s squad clinch their nailbiting victory. The biggest outdoor screening took place at Broadgate Circle, one of just four giant screens in the whole of London, where well over a thousand people gathered to watch the game. As the crowd sweated and heaved down in the arena, they were watched over by well-heeled senior bankers at nearby UBS, who were entertaining clients in the Corney & Barrow bar spanning the circumference of the circle.
Other banks also caught on to the occasion’s considerable schmoozing potential. Blessed with blue skies and a burning sun, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s global markets team hosted favoured clients up on their roof terrace overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral, complete with a giant outdoor screen and hog roast. And RBS, which has made a virtue out of refusing to send its top brass out on costly corporate hospitality jaunts to South Africa, made use of its purpose-built third-floor viewing “stadium”. Investment bankers entertained contacts while lounging on their indoor pitch under a giant canopy.
Legal eagles at Taylor Wessing and Eversheds also jumped on the hospitality bandwagon, laying on beer, wine and traditional pub grub – fish ‘n’ chips, bangers ‘n’ mash and steak and ale pies – for clients.
Elsewhere, accountants relaxed the rules to allow their staff to watch the game, with both PwC and Deloitte hosting screenings in the canteens at Embankment Place and Athene Place.
Canary Wharfers milling around outside trying to catch a glimpse of the footy on the enormous screens at Canada Square park, however, were in for a disappointment. Judging that there were enough bars showing the game, the powers that be took the controversial decision to show the tennis instead.