The former Arsenal football shop by Finsbury Park station will be transformed into an Express store for supermarket giant Asda.
The Gooners’ shop on Station Place did not reopen after the pandemic. It is in a prime location with high footfall beside the bus, tube and overground train station. It is also close to the park, which is a popular venue for concerts and other big events.
The premier league team has other shops at the stadium and in Drayton Park, Highbury.
Asda asked Islington Council’s licensing committee for permission to sell alcohol at an Asda Express store between 8am and 11pm, with opening hours from 7am to midnight.
Initially, it had asked to open and sell alcohol from 6am to midnight.
Ward councillor Gary Heather raised objections and wrote to the licensing committee pointing out that “this area has a history of vulnerable people frequenting it who are homeless, drug users, perpetrators of drug crime and other crime such as robbery, ASB [anti-social behaviour]”.
He also wanted assurances about public safety, as the shop will be a major transport hub used by football fans of different clubs on their way to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
Several black cab drivers who collect fares at the station wrote to the committee with concerns that “selling cheap alcohol in the area will impact the area negatively – there are a lot of drug users in this area and busy station”.
One unnamed resident raised concerns that people would be able to buy cheap alcohol and might stay in the area, “which can cause increase in number of crimes”.
Asda’s lawyer Richard Taylor said the shop will not sell beer, lager or cider with a high alcohol content or individual miniatures.
Customers will not be able to buy alcohol four hours before the start of any large event at Finsbury Park, unless it is part of a normal food shop. There will be a similar ban on alcohol sales an hour after an event, to give people time to head home without buying drink.
Taylor said there would also be “adequate levels of staff and security”. The company will do its own risk assessments on the number of door supervisors and security staff needed and take advice from the police.
Other measures include CCTV and a Challenge 25 policy. The company will work “to eliminate or minimise any nuisance arising out of its licensable activities”.
Islington’s licensing committee last week granted the licence.