London derby awaits Boxing Day strike verdict


Chelsea v Fulham could be postponed unless the High Court puts a halt to the proposed action today.


By Sabrina Parkar

The Boxing Day strike threatens to postpone popular derby Chelsea v Fulham, unless the High Court puts a halt to the proposed action today.

London Underground is challenging Aslef union’s decision over a 24- hour walkout planned by drivers concerning Boxing Day pay.

The action could bring the city to a standstill, with London football clubs playing at home facing the biggest blow.

Howard Collins, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said: “The Underground is a public service that should be playing its part in helping Londoners and the capital have a happy and prosperous Christmas, and we will take every possible step to ensure that happens.”

Boxing Day football games have become a tradition for English football fans.

Usually, games consist of local rivals to avoid fans travelling far distances after Christmas day.

As December 26 is a national holiday, fans are already at a loss with the lack of overground rail services.

Chelsea and Fulham staff and supporters will therefore be relying on the London Underground to reach Stamford Bridge for Sunday’s 1pm kick off.

Mr Collins said: “We’ve been talking to clubs about the safety issues.

“If the ruling is not in our favour and Aslef say they are still going to strike then I think we are looking at them probably postponing or deferring some of the matches.”

Many fans have mixed emotions about the proposed delay.

Fulham fan Michael Cox, 19, said: “I’ll be fuming if they cancel because I opted not to go as it’s on Boxing Day but if it’s later I would definitely have gone.”

Last season, poor weather conditions forced Chelsea to delay their tie against Manchester United for almost four months.

If the postponement goes ahead, it will be the second in London this season, when Tottenham Hotspurs cancelled an earlier match due to the riots.

Arsenal are also at risk of their game against Wolverhampton Wanderers being postponed.

A statement on Arsenal’s website read: “The paramount concern to Arsenal Football Club is the duty of care we have towards the Arsenal supporters, Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters, match-day employees and indeed everyone who is planning to attend this match.”

The High Court ruling is scheduled to take place today, and the football clubs concerned will take action as necessary.


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