Football fever hits business

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The Independent Online
THE "double whammy" of England's World Cup debut and a tube strike on Monday could cost businesses in the capital as much as pounds 35 million, warns the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

World Cup fever is expected to hit financial markets particularly hard as City whizz kids either take the day off or abandon their desks and head for the pubs to watch the England v Tunisia game.

Bars in the Square Mile are enjoying the upturn in business. "Most of the people who work in the city are football fanatics. They just aren't catching that seven o'clock train, they are staying in the pubs instead," said Eric Jones, landlord of the Flying Horse in Sun Street.

And the markets are feeling the effect, according to James Cornish, European market strategist with BT/Alex Brown. "There are fewer shares being traded. I expect that means the decline in the market on Friday was a bit steeper than it would have been." The FTSE 100 of leading UK stocks closed down 82.7 points on Friday at 5769.8.

But banks and brokerage firms are adamant the wheels of the global market will keep turning. "City traders work in teams of three and four," said one City observer. "They leave one on the desk and if anything happens he'll phone the others on the mobile in the pub."

Some countries are taking the World Cup even more seriously. On Tuesday, the stock exchanges in Brazil are closing early for the national team's game against Morocco.

The amount of money going in and out of the stock market during theWorld Cup is also being squeezed as some of the City's top decision makers head for France.

When not watching the football, London traders are employing their financial skills to bet on match results. Through firms such as City Index, which specialises in spread-betting they can bet not only on the outcome of the match but also on such things as the number of corners or the number on the shirts of goal scorers.