We're not here for the football. This is a networking event

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The Independent Online

After two unconvincing draws, England finally got back to the winning ways. It may have been business as usual for Capello's men, but, thanks to the mid-afternoon kick-off, that was not the case for millions of people in workplaces across the country.

In offices up and down the land, productivity dropped to almost zero as football took priority. Those lucky enough to have a television screen near their desk could watch while they supposedly worked. But others came up with more creative ways to justify an afternoon watching the World Cup. At PricewaterhouseCoopers, staff invited clients to watch the match with them, branding it a "networking" event. A spokeswoman for the company explained: "Our Birmingham office has a rather large canteen area and so we arranged to have televisions set up to show the football. A number of members of staff invited their clients so that they could mingle together while watching the match."

Staff at Royal Mail sorting offices were allowed to listen to live commentary and BBC Radio 5 Live was piped into sorting offices via the PA system. At the Land Rover factory in Solihull, in the West Midlands, staff were given the choice of working an extra 45 minutes on Monday and Tuesday in exchange for finishing an hour and a half early yesterday – in time to watch the match. Some 2,000 workers were balloted and 88 per cent voted in favour of the proposal. A spokeswoman said: "We looked at the shift patterns and realised that we could give them this offer and shut the production line a little earlier than usual."

The same company also owns the Jaguar plant at Castle Bromwich a few miles up the M42, but staff there were not given the same opportunity. Instead they were threatened with disciplinary action if they attempted to listen to the game on the radio.

A spokesman explained: "Our factory is a very active work environment with strict health and safety rules. People listening to radios or personal stereos are not going to be able to hear important announcements or approaching vehicles or warning bells. It is a basic rule that you are not allowed to use a personal stereo or listen to the radio."

Jaguar was in the minority though, as most companies showed a touch of generosity for the day. At insurance firm AXA, bosses have hired a 61-inch flat screen TV for its employees to watch the game. Kellogg's also laid on big screens for more than 600 of its staff at its Manchester headquarters. And many school headteachers let pupils skip lessons and watch the football instead. Even the court service relaxed its rules for the day, letting jurors out early to watch the football.

A spokesman for the Judicial Communications Office explained: "A number of judges in courts in England and Wales, at the request of jurors, started proceedings early in order to finish in time for the England World Cup match. With the early start and shortened lunch breaks, there was only a minimal impact on court business."

But thousands of fans attempting to watch the game at home in south-west London and Salford missed the match as power cuts affected homes. Power was out in the Twickenham area for most of the game, while 1,300 homes were affected in the Eccles area.

"I can't believe I have a HD wide-screen TV and we're listening to the match on a wind-up radio. God bless Trevor Baylis," Kew resident Chris Caulfield told the BBC.

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