Pubs driven to financial ruin by the impact of the pandemic could be bought up on the cheap under plans being drawn up by JD Wetherspoon as well as by a new venture fronted by the former boss of Greene King.

In a statement to investors, Wetherspoon said it was raising up to £93.7m by placing new shares.

It said the money would be used to strengthen a balance sheet damaged by the pandemic and offset the impact of an expected slow start once pubs reopen.

But the 871-strong pub chain said the money would also “facilitate the acquisition of new properties, which are likely to be available at favourable prices, as a result of the pandemic”.

"Nearly three-quarters of the pubs promised a £1,000 grant by the prime minister to help them survive the loss of Christmas sales in England are still waiting for the money, the British Beer & Pubs Association (BBPA) said.

The grants, which local councils have been asked to distribute, were intended to help “wet-led” pubs, which do not serve food and instead rely on alcohol sales, leaving them particularly exposed to Covid-19 restrictions. Venues that did not serve food were unable to open over the traditionally lucrative Christmas period.