Arsenal in talks with Premier League to postpone West Ham game until 2013 as Tube drivers announce Boxing Day strike
15:38 GMT, 18 December 2012
Arsenal are locked in talks with the Premier League over postponing their Christmas clash with West Ham after Tube workers announced they would strike on Boxing Day.
A club statement issued today read: 'Arsenal Football Club is currently in discussions with the Premier League, West Ham United, police and relevant authorities over the possible postponement of the Boxing Day fixture at Emirates Stadium, following the announcement that London Underground drivers plan industrial action on that day.
'The match is in doubt due to the difficulties of getting 60,000 supporters, plus matchday staff and employees to the stadium safely in the advent of disruption to public transport on a public holiday.
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'The Club will make a further announcement as soon as a final decision is made.'
Although Arsenal have not made a
final decision on whether to call off proceedings, it seems likely that
Sam Allardyce will have to wait until the New Year to take his side to the Emirates.
Arsenal's 60,000-seater ground is
five minutes' walk from Holloway Road station in north London, with
Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park also close by.
Many fans use the service to get to games so a suspension would cause chaos if the match went ahead.
A strike by Tube drivers last year
forced Arsenal to delay their Boxing Day match with Wolves by 24 hours
but they cannot do the same this year as they have a game against
Newcastle on December 29.
Twelve months ago the club cited the 'duty of
care' they had to both sets of supporters and staff.
A midweek evening in January seems the likeliest date for re-staging but neighbours Tottenham Hotspur and the FA Cup are also factors to be considered.
QPR's match with West Brom will kick off at 3pm as planned after the club held a meeting this afternoon to discuss the matter.
Loftus Road is close to three Tube stations and fans are often reliant on the service but a statement on Ranger's website read: 'Supporters are advised to allow extra time for their journeys to and from Loftus Road.
'Buses will be running on the usual Sunday/Bank Holiday service on the day of the fixture, whilst parking in the borough will be free.
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'Supporters who are unable to attend the fixture owing to the Tube strikes will be entitled to a full refund.'
Fulham will wait for official confirmation of the Tube strike before deciding if any action needs to be taken over their Boxing Day match with Southampton at Craven Cottage.
A club spokesman said: 'We are monitoring situation and putting contingency in place but remain fully committed to the game going ahead as scheduled.'
Fulham play Swansea three days later.
Charlton are the only Championship side hosting a Boxing Day fixture in the capital but it is understood their match with Ipswich should not be too badly disrupted and will go ahead. Most home fans travel in from Kent rather than central London.
Derailed: Fans will have find it difficult to get across the capital
The announcement by Aslef means
London Underground drivers are on course to walk out on Boxing Day, as
well as January 18 and 25 in a row over bank holiday pay. It will be the
third successive Christmas walkout by Tube drivers.
move was announced after Aslef members voted by 9-1 in favour of
strikes. A spokesman said: 'The ballot result shows the strength of
feeling that remains on this issue.'