A leading trade body has undermined Sky's claims that it had frozen football package subscriptions for pubs and bars, saying operators could actually end up paying 18% more. The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has highlighted that the restructuring packages meant that large numbers of pub operators would have to pay more to offer the same level of service to their customers as last year. Nick Bish, chief executive of ALMR, said: "We welcome Sky's recognition that these are difficult economic times and of course we would welcome a price freeze. However, the reality for many operators is that this isn't a freeze at all: they face double figure percentage increases to provide the same service for their customers." The organisation pointed out that while Sky last year had offered a "price freeze" on their Football + service, beneficiaries of that would now face huge increases this year. Additionally, one of Sky's channels, At the Races, would no longer be provided as part of packages and pubs would have to take out a separate subscription to it. The comments came as Sky sent out letters to licensees across the UK yesterday with details of its sports packages, saying that due to the challenges the industry faced it had decided to keep the prices the same as last year. A Sky spokeswoman said: "We recognise the licensed trade has been affected by the credit crunch, rising utility bills and the smoking ban. We have taken the decision to keep our prices unchanged following dialogue with our customers."

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