The planned 48-hour walkout by London Underground workers was called off this afternoon, just hours before the industrial action was due to begin.
Last night, Fulham announced a strike would force the game to be put back, angering Liverpool owner John W Henry, who publicly questioned why the fixture could not go ahead when Arsenal are hosting Manchester United on the same night.
Fulham were concerned they would not be able to get enough stewards to work at Craven Cottage because of the disruption caused by the walkout.
However, clubs have had plenty of warning about the planned action — the strike was announced on January 10 — and the onus is always on them to do everything in their power to ensure games can be played.
Before the strike was called off, West Ham had confirmed that tonight’s home game against Norwich would go ahead and Leyton Orient also planned to host Bristol City this evening.
Fulham had claimed they would be unable to fulfil the safety requirements to host their fixture but Liverpool owner Henry tweeted today: “Arsenal, West Ham and Leyton Orient all ready for the strike but not Fulham?”
Emirates Stadium has a 60,000 capacity, nearly three times bigger than Craven Cottage but Arsenal had contacted all their staff and said that, in the event of a strike, they were confident enough stewards would be able to get to the game.
Before the action was scrapped, a spokesperson for the Spirit of Shankly, a Liverpool supporters’ group, told Standard Sport: “There is a lot of anger among fans. The only problem Fulham seem to have is with their staff. It should be Fulham’s responsibility to ensure they have the right number of staff, as Arsenal and West Ham have done.”
Fulham head coach Rene Meulensten insisted today that questions over whether the game would go ahead had not affected his squad.
“We have prepared as if the game is going ahead,” he said. “I have not really mentioned it to the players at all. We have prepared in the best possible way because we need to make sure we are well prepared for this game.”
Last Tuesday, on the night of the first Tube strike, Fulham hosted Sheffield United in the FA Cup with a crowd of 10,139 seeing the Premier League side knocked out 1-0 in extra-time.