Camden Town Brewery made Arsenal's official drinks partner - but why wasn't Islington's only beer firm Hammerton approached?
PUBLISHED: 14:41 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:04 24 July 2019
Arsenal FC snubbed Islington's only brewery in the tendering process for its new official taphouse partner - and instead picked a Kentish Town firm owned by a multinational drinks giant.
The club has announced its official beer partner for the next three years as Camden Town Brewery, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev - the parent company of Stella Artois, Budweiser, Corona and hundreds of other firms.
Camden Town Brewery makes beer under the Kentish Town railway arches in Wilkin Street Mews, which it points out is two miles from the Emirates Stadium, as well as further north in Enfield. But Arsenal's choice has been poorly received by Hammerton - based at the Roman Way Industrial Estate - whose owner argues he could have increased production to satisfy booze demand at the Emirates Stadium.
"We were surprised we weren't contacted by Arsenal at all," publican and Arsenal fan Lee Hammerton said.
"Obviously it's their choice, but it would have been nice if Arsenal committed to a local brewery. They would have been able to support a local business and provide local beer to supporters. "Arsenal say they support the local community but I'm sure Arsenal fans would have liked a local brewer rather than a big commercial business."
Labour leader and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, also an avid Gooner, told the Gazette: "Arsenal do great work in the local community, so it is disappointing that the club has opted for a partnership with the world's largest drink company ahead of a local beer company.
"Supporting locally-owned businesses would mean that the spending power of Arsenal and the money spent fans on match days would boost our local economy - rather than being extracted by a multinational company.
"I hope Arsenal Football Club can take steps to support our fantastic local businesses in the future."
Islington Council's business chief, Cllr Asima Shaikh also expressed misgivings about the deal.
She told this paper: "Arsenal are an important and much loved institution in Islington. They are rooted in our locality as a significant employer and purchaser. They have an important role to play in supporting a local and inclusive economy, by paying the London Living Wage, employing local residents and contracting with local firms.
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"We need to support our local independent small businesses, as they tend to employ people local people who also tend to spend money locally with other small firms.
"It would be great if Arsenal would consider contracting with our locally-owned independent beer companies. I am sure we would love them even more [if they did]."
Arsenal's commercial director, Peter Silverstone, said: "We are always working to improve the matchday experience at Emirates Stadium, so to partner with the local and hugely renowned Camden Town Brewery is very exciting. Camden's enthusiasm is infectious and their desire to support our fans is clear to see through their incredible competition offer to kick-start our partnership. We look forward to working with them on more exciting initiatives to capture the hearts and taste buds of Arsenal fans."
Jasper Cuppaidge, Camden Town Brewery founder, said: "If you'd have told me 10 years ago that the beer I was creating in my basement in north London would one day be the beer of Arsenal Football Club - the club I love - I would have thought you were crazy, but I would have loved the idea of it.
"The partnership marks a huge moment both for me and for the entire team at Camden Town Brewery."
Paul Campbell, who runs cult Arsenal pie shop Piebury Corner in Holloway and King's Cross said the new beer deal is "fantastic news".
He added: "We sell Camden beers exclusively on draught at the Holloway pie shop and drink Hells nearly every day. I love it."
But he said they do stock Hammerton beers at the King's Cross store.
Paul added: "But there is still more work for the club to do to support local businesses - Spurs have done it with Beavertown:"Heineken brough a minority share in Beavertown last year. And Paul said Piebury corner stopped stocking the stuff when they signed a deal with Tottenham Hotspur.
The Piebury Corner manager is confident smaller firms like his own and Hammerton could be contracted into the Emirates in the near future. The Holloway store will reopen on Sunday ahead of Arsenal's Emirates Cup final versus Lyon.
Fans also have chance to win a pair of season tickets, a free pint per person at each home game, and a one-off bar tap for 10 people at Camden Town Brewery bar worth up to £300.
The competition, which is only open to those aged 18 and over, runs until Sunday. To enter, submit your name and email in a webform here.