World Cup qualifier may be affected by London Underground strike

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wembley Park is the nearest connecting station of the Undergound to Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena.

In the United Kingdom, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) began a work stoppage at 19:00 BST (18:00 GMT) today after last-minute talks over pay, jobs and disciplinary issues broke down. The stoppage is expected to last 48 hours and could leave millions of travelers without transportation.

Sky News says that there are fears that the strike may affect fan transportation for the England national football team's 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier match against Andorra at Wembley Stadium tomorrow. Football Association (FA) chief executive Ian Watmore announced that the game would continue as planned at 20:15 BST (19:15 GMT) and encouraged spectators to arrive at the stadium early. The stadium gates will now open at 17:45 BST (16:45 GMT).

No extra transport is being put on and overground trains will not stop at Wembley, and car parking and park-and-ride facilities are unavailable at the ground. Fears of lack of transportation raised the possibility that the game would be forced to play behind closed doors without the team's supporters.

Watmore said that refunds will be available for supporters that do not attend the game. Last week, the FA decided to halt ticket sales at 70,000 in anticipation of a possible strike. Wembley Stadium can accommodate 90,000 fans for football matches.

In years past, the RMT has been known to clash with the London Underground and its privatised contractors Metronet and Tubelines.

On June 5, London Underground offered staff a four-year pay deal or a two-year deal which they called an "above inflation pay rise". However, the RMT is seeking a 5% pay raise and a commitment to no compulsory redundancies.

The English national football team currently leads their group in the World Cup qualifying with 18 points and a 6–0–0 record. Andorra currently has no points and has lost all six of their matches. Although Andorra has been eliminated from competing in the 2010 World Cup, England is still competing for better placement.