A BIG shake-up is coming at one of Irvine's most popular pubs.

The Times can reveal that Amber Taverns, a UK-wide pub chain, has taken over the freehold of the R&A Sports Bar in High Street.

The company operates more than 150 pubs across the country.

The Irvine bar will become only the fifth Scottish premises owned by the firm - and only the second in Ayrshire, after The Standing Man in Kilmarnock.

And there's plenty of change to come - though the company says that some of the things the Sports Bar is best known for will remain.

The new owners say the pub will close for a major refurbishment in just a few weeks' time.

An exact date has yet to be provided, but the firm says the closure will happen at the end of the football season.

A spokesperson for Amber Taverns said: "I can confirm that we have purchased the freehold of the business and will be closing in a few weeks to do a full refurbishment of the premises. 

"The plan is to trade until the end of the football season and close for a couple of weeks to transform the pub into a contemporary community pub."

They also explained some of the exciting new additions, as well as similarities, locals can expect to see.

They continued: "We will upgrade the audio-visual with new HD TV’s and Bog Screen.

"We will still feature a range of televised sport SkySports, Viaplay, DAZN and TNT Sports as part of our offer.

"We will retain pool and darts and also introduce a shuffle table and karaoke room. 

"There will be an extended range of draught beers available which will include a selection of national and regional cask ales. 

"There will be  a wide range of spirits and selected wines, prosecco and even an awesome Cava.

"The kitchen will remain closed and we will operate an over-18 policy.

"However children will be allowed to attend private functions on the first floor."

And locals can expect to see one more big change as a result the refurbishment.

When it re-opens, the pub will no longer be known as the Sports Bar.

Instead it will be renamed The Northern Way - sharing a name with Amber Taverns' existing venue in Paisley.

It is expected that all renovations will be completed in time for the Irvine venue to re-open in June.

The Times understands no staffing changes are anticipated as a result of the takeover.

The company's other Scottish premises are located in Dumfries (The Imperial), Coatbridge (The Old Post Office) and Kirkcaldy (Montagues).