Arsenal’s Premier League clash against West Ham on Boxing Day has been cancelled due to proposed industrial action on the London Underground.
Aslef union confirmed the planned tube strike will go ahead after a ballot on Monday, with the action likely to cause chaos to those who would be travelling to the Gunners’ 60,000 capacity stadium via the underground system.
The north London outfit therefore announced that the clash, originally scheduled for Wednesday December 26th, will be moved due to the “preparation period needed to safely operate Emirates Stadium by all the relevant agencies”.
The Gunners explained that the decision has been made to avoid health risks, while they assured that those who have already bought tickets will be able to use them for the rearranged fixture.
An Arsenal statement read: “The club liaised closely with all the relevant agencies, including the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, London Underground, the Premier League, West Ham United FC and Islington Council, in order to reach this decision.
“The paramount concern was always the duty of care towards the Arsenal supporters, West Ham United supporters, matchday employees and workers and indeed everyone who was planning to attend the game on Boxing Day.
“In addition to the proposed industrial action on London Underground on Boxing Day, there are extremely limited services operating on National Rail train services into London on this day.
“Also, normal parking restrictions close to the stadium still apply. This would have caused severe disruption, or at worst, inability for supporters or matchday employees and workers to get to Emirates Stadium.
“We apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused supporters but we feel that the right decision has been made. Tickets already purchased for this match are still valid for the rearranged date, which is yet to be confirmed.”
The club then confirmed that the fixture will be move to either a 7.45pm kick-off on Wednesday, January 23 or a 3pm kick-off on Saturday, January 26, depending on results in the FA Cup third round, being played on the weekend of January 5 and January 6.
In a similar incident last year, again caused by a tube drivers’ strike, the Premier League outfit were forced to delay their Boxing Day clash with Wolves by 24 hours – the match can’t, however, be moved a day later this term because Arsene Wenger’s men already face Newcastle on December 29.
Fulham host Southampton and QPR are at home to West Brom in the capital’s other top-flight fixtures on Boxing Day, both of which may be effected by the action, however there are no plans to postpone the two matches at the moment.