MANAGERS at a Southampton cinema say they are “very gutted” that their screening of England’s first world cup semi final in a generation has been cancelled.

Stephen Sambrook from Harbour Lights Picturehouse in Ocean Village said they were “very happy” to be offering an “alternative” screening of the England vs Croatia game tonight.

But now they say they have been told by Hampshire police to cancel the free event.

Speaking to the Daily Echo cinema manager Mr Sambrook said only 50 tickets had gone by the time the police contacted them this morning.

He said: “There was no talk about stopping at 50 people. I’m sure other places will have more people in but we were happy to show people an alternative option on the big screen.

“It would have been a wonderful atmosphere. It’s a huge shame. We have had comments from people saying that Harbour Lights is the most well behaved cinema they’ve been to.

“Our customers are very chilled and wonderful. In a pub people are next to the bar all night. Our bar would be open but we assume people wouldn’t want to miss a goal to go and get a drink.

“We have had people contacting us saying the reason they were coming here is because they want to avoid a rowdy atmosphere.”

He added: "There was no ambiguity, we were told that if we didn't have SIA-approved security that they would "shut us down". No other advice was given and it certainly wasn't advised that it was our decision to make."

Now Mr Sambrook says they will try to get security in place if the team make it through to Sunday's final - but that the event tonight remains cancelled.

The capacity of the screening would have been 200.

A spokesperson for Hampshire police said: "Licensing teams have been in contact with venues ahead of this evening’s game.

"We have indicated that demand on the constabulary is high and advised Southampton City Council and licensed premises that event security plans need to reflect and mitigate this.

"Ultimately the decision to hold an event lies with the event organiser, not the police."