C-stores in Manchester city centre are as sick as a parrot after being told not to sell alcohol during the build-up to the remaining matches in the World Cup.

A number of stores in the city have received a letter from Greater Manchester Police asking them to not to sell alcohol during the hours of 2pm and 9pm on the day of the semi-finals (Tuesday and Wednesday), between noon and 7pm on Saturday, or between noon and 9pm on Sunday, the day of the World Cup Final. The letter cites concerns over large crowds gathering and the potential for street drinking and public disorder. Pubs and bars in the city are allowed to remain open.

Although nominally a voluntary ban, store owners were left in no doubt that they were expected to abide by it. Manchester Spar retailer Paul Stone was dismayed to receive the letter.

“It’s total prohibition, with no consultation and practically no notice,” he said. “There are 38 c-stores in the M1 postcode, and it seems a bit of a coincidence that this ban coincides with the council obtaining sponsorship to set up a new big screen at Castlefield Bowl, where they are selling beer at £5 a pint.

“Also, where they draw the line as to what counts as city centre seems pretty arbitrary. Our Oxford Road and Princess Street stores in particular are nowhere near where any crowds would gather, and have lots of regular local residents who shop there and wont be able to buy alcohol for long periods.

“I suppose the one saving grace is that we are allowed to start selling again after 9pm, but it has certainly taken the shine off what has been a great period for sales overall.”