Manchester City and Southampton fans could face severe travel disruption when the two teams meet in October as a result of planned rail strike action.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) announced on Thursday that its railway workers will walk-out across the country on Saturday, October 8 in protest against pay and working conditions among other issues. It is expected that more than 40,000 employees from Network Rail and 15 train operating companies will participate in the walk-out — which is set to affect football fans.
City are due to face off against Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on October 8, and Saints fans — many of whom rely on the networks to make the near 500-mile round trip — might have to find alternative ways of getting to Manchester.
A statement released from the RMT press office on Thursday read: "RAIL UNION RMT has announced that railway workers will walk out across the country on October 8 in the ongoing fight over jobs, pay, and working conditions. Over 40,000 RMT members from Network Rail and 15 train operating companies will take to picket lines, effectively shutting down the railway network."
The new transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP recently met with the union, and RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that it was a positive step. However, he also insisted that industrial action would continue "for as long as it takes".
"We welcome this more positive approach from the government to engage with us as a first step to finding a suitable settlement," said Lynch.
"However, as no new offer has been tabled, our members have no choice but to continue this strike action. We will continue to negotiate in good faith, but the employers and government need to understand our industrial campaign will continue for as long as it takes."
The planned rail strike action on October 8 is set to be proceeded by further walkouts, which are currently planned for Saturday, October 1, and Wednesday, October 5.