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Rent row with Guinness shuts sport pub

ICONIC Dublin pub Searson's has reportedly served up its last pint as the Baggot Street venue was forced to shut its doors.

The bar, popular with sports fans heading to the nearby Aviva Stadium, is part of the Thomas Read group, which is in receivership.

The 20 employees at the pub have now been told it will close indefinitely.

Guinness parent, Diageo owns the lease on the building but is subletting to the Thomas Read Group. It's believed that the receiver, Martin Ferris, was trying to renegotiate the rent with Diageo.

However, sources said that the rent had reached €8,000 a week, which was unsustainable in the current climate.

Diageo had been hoping to find a new tenant to run the pub, but its hands are tied unless the receiver agrees to sell the sublease on the building.

The receiver for the Thomas Read group recently sold the lease on the Bailey on Duke Street, just off Grafton Street, to hotelier Michael Holland for more than €1m.

Last month, the bar was reopened with a €200,000 revamp.

The freehold is owned by Marks and Spencer, which has lowered the rent by about half to €200,000 a year.

According to the Vintners Federation of Ireland, one pub has closed per day in the past year.

Since 2005, one in eight pubs across the country -- more than 1,150 in total -- have closed.

And the number of pub licences has fallen by 1,300 over the past five years

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) said that recent figures show that while the drinks market has increased by just over 6pc at the beginning of 2010, sales in the "on-trade" in pubs and hotels dropped by almost 15pc. Thousands of jobs are being lost in the industry.