Police reinforcements line up for Arsenal match
�Police will be stepping up Arsenal crowd control efforts this weekend to cope with Tube closures that could leave thousands struggling to reach the Emirates.
At least 14 extra officers and additional club stewards will be drafted in to help get some 60,000 fans to and from Sunday’s tie with Stoke.
The Victoria line is shutting all weekend for upgrade works, putting the already strained Piccadilly Line stations of Arsenal and Finsbury Park under even greater pressure.
The closure means no Underground trains will run to Highbury and Islington and capacity at Finsbury Park will be much reduced.
Paul Matz, spokesman for the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association, said: “It’s going to inconvenience lots of fans quite considerably, there’s no question about that. It has been well publicised, but inevitably there will be people who don’t go to every game or who just haven’t noticed.” Supporters are also being urged not to change onto the Piccadilly branch at King’s Cross.
To try to ease the impact of a mass exodus at the final whistle, a second match between Arsenal and Chelsea Under 18s sides will follow the Premier League fixture. Fans are also being encouraged to walk from Northern line stops at Archway or the Angel.
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Sgt Andrew Wadeson, who heads Islington Police’s football intelligence unit, said: “We will have additional police resources in place and extra stewards. The biggest problem is after the game, with everyone leaving at once, but by putting on the extra match, hopefully that will be spread out.”
Both lines are usually kept open on matchdays but, after discussions between police and Transport for London, it was decided Sunday’s game could go ahead despite the disruption.
Sgt Wadeson added: “We have worked closely with the club on how we’re going to get 60,000 people in and out. This is a low risk factor for us – there’s nothing to suggest there’s going to be any disorder.”