Up to 30,000 Albion fans are facing a ‘journey from hell’ to the first home games of the season after unions decided upon a five-day rail strike. Paul Barber, Albion chief executive labelled the decision to strike during the Seagulls’ season openers as “totally unacceptable”. The industrial dispute clashes with the Albion’s league cup tie at home to Colchester United on Tuesday August 9 and the following Amex curtain raiser for the league campaign against Nottingham Forest shown three days later live on Sky Sports on the Friday night.
The week commencing August 8 will see Southern rail conductors stage a walk out as further industrial action due to an argument over a change in their job responsibilities which they argue will jeopardise passenger safety.
Albion chief executive Paul Barber said: “It is hugely disappointing that our fans, along with many others, are being subjected to such inconvenience and uncertainty regarding their travel arrangements to and from matches.
“Our business, like so many others in London and the south east, is now being severely disrupted by the dispute which, as a major customer of Southern, is totally unacceptable.”
Paul Samrah, who led the Falmer For All campaign, added: “We’re trying to get into the Premiership which will have positive knock-ons for the whole city and this strike is another obstacle in our way.”
Samarah predicted that of the 25,000 seats given to home supporters as many as 15,000 are filled by those travelling to matches by train. Of those many will now have to make the decision between ‘utter chaos’ by train or a lack of parking should they chose to drive instead. Unfortunately for the Albion many may choose to stay away completely which may have a negative effect upon the teams performance on the pitch on the night.
Brighton and Hove Albion have pledged to do their best to compensate for the fallout from the strike and are already in the process of arranging alternative travel to and from both matches as they are in contact with other major transport providers. The club have already pledged extra coach, bus and park-and-ride services.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT attempted to justify the strike saying: “Our fight is not with the travelling public it is with a company that thinks it can treat all of us like dirt.” his union have already offered to postpone the strike action until the winter on the condition Southern Rail calls an embargo on the proposed changes to conductors responsibilities.
RMT have not guaranteed any additional or special services going to or from Falmer for the two Albion matches affected by the proposed strike.