For those caught up in the chaos caused by the tube strikes yesterday and today, there is more pain ahead for the London commuter as there is a second round of strikes scheduled for next Wednesday and Thursday (12th and 13th February). Now this blog has always been apolitical, so we will not be adding to whether we agree or disagree with the strikes. The Facebook page has admins who work for TfL, and admins who rely on people getting to work. But what we are concerned with is what these strikes could mean for Arsenal.
This morning’s chaos highlighted clear safety problems which, if next week’s strike go’s ahead, will surely see the Arsenal v Manchester United game re-arranged. 60,000 football fans combined with commuters trying to get home on a limited service is a recipe for disaster.
Back in 2011 & 2012, the Victoria Line as getting upgraded. This saw shut downs of the entire line, or just from Walthamstow Central to Seven Sisters. Whenever Arsenal played at home, these upgrade works were suspended. If we played on a Saturday they would only take place on a Sunday. If we played on a Sunday, they would not take place at all. We can not safely get 60,000 people in and out of the stadium without the underground.
Arsenal were due to play West Ham United at home on Boxing Day 2012, this game was called off due to industrial action. It also happened the year before when Arsenal were due to play Wolves on Boxing Day 2011. The reasoning behind both was the same. That the club were fearful for the safety of fans, and were worried that fans and match day staff might not be able to get to the game. The correct decision was made.
Based on these 3 precedent’s, the Manchester United game will surely also be re-arranged (Although it being Manchester United, I would not be surprised if TV companies step in and force the game to be played). If it is called off, it creates a worrying situation for Arsenal.
Whilst a cancellation will be good for February, as it will mean a week’s break between the 2 Liverpool games, it could make March an even bigger disaster than it currently is.
Best case scenario is the game is re-arranged for either the 28th of February or 5th of March. That will see it sandwiched between Sunderland (H), Stoke (A) & Swansea (H) depending on which date is picked. All 3 of those games are on a Saturday, so playing Sat/Wed/Sat should not be a problem.
Worse case scenario is if the Premier League decide to re-arrange the fixture to the back end of February. The dates of 19th and 26 of March are available. This would see the game sandwiched between Spurs (A), Chelsea (A) & Manchester City (H). Not an ideal situation. If the Premier League decides to play the game on these dates, it could spell disaster for Arsenal’s season as it would be 4 touch Premier League games on the spin – at least with the current fixture list it is only 2 Premier League games on the spin. Edit: United have a CL tie on the week of the 19th and play City on the week of the 26th, making this paragraph pointless!
We will have to wait and see whether the game is re-arranged. In both the Wolves and West Ham scenario’s, the announcements were made 5 and 7 days before the strike respectively, so at latest we should hear Friday. If it is re-arranged, hopefully the Premier League do not screw us over by re-scheduling it at the end of March.