Absence of ball followers

CLASSROOMS and places of work could become strangely quiet in the summer if predictions of absenteeism come true.With the World Cup taking place in the Far East throughout June, live football matches will be screened in the early hours of the morning.

By Matt Eley

CLASSROOMS and places of work could become strangely quiet in the summer if predictions of absenteeism come true.

With the World Cup taking place in the Far East throughout June, live football matches will be screened in the early hours of the morning.

It is believed millions of people will be staying at home to watch the games rather than heading to work.

Football mad school pupils in Suffolk will be counting their blessings at how the England fixtures have fallen.

The first game against Sweden takes place on Sunday June 2 at 9.30am. Following that is the much-hyped clash with Argentina, which kicks-off at 11.30am on June 7 – during the half-term holiday.

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The only game that falls in the school calendar is the June 12 clash with Nigeria, but with a 6.30am kick-off time children should be able to head to school after the final whistle is blown.

Neil Watts, headteacher of Northgate High School, in Ipswich, said he had not made any special contingency plans for the World Cup.

He said: "I think the only thing we might see is staff coming in to work early to watch the games.

"It's quite lucky how the games have fallen so it shouldn't really affect us. We start at 8.50am and expect everyone to be there as usual."

The World Cup coincides with GCSE and A Level exams, so pupils will have to ensure they get the right blend between revision and relaxation.

It might be the workplace that ends up being more greatly affected by England's progress in June.

According to new research almost 1.4 million men plan to take a sickie from work to watch the World Cup. Around two per cent of women workers are also planning to take time off when the tournament kicks off in June, the research showed.

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "Employers are faced with a dilemma as how to handle this, as the Chamber of Commerce we expect all businesses to be able operate normally.

"Some employers will operate flexible working hours. If too many people do not arrive at work on time due to the World Cup without permission it could become a disciplinary matter."

The predicted level of absenteeism could cost British firms £142 million in lost productivity and other costs, claimed online recruitment firm Workthing.com.

Many of the 465 people polled said they would book days off to watch games or hoped their employers would provide TV sets in the office.

EXCUSES

No doubt teachers and managers will hear some weird and wonderful excuses for absenteeism in June and they could include these:

n I can't make it to school because I have broken the second metatarsal in my left foot.

n I am intending to study West African culture at university so will be staying home to do some research.

n Somebody's stolen the TV and I need to be there to speak to the police when they come round.

n Everybody keeps talking about football at work/school, I hate it and need a break, so I'm staying at home today.

n I consider the implications of England's World Cup prospects, one of the few matters that can truly unite the nation, to be more significant than the number of apples Johnny has if Sue takes three.

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