Employers hire big screens for the game

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Employers will be converting conference rooms into makeshift auditoriums for office screenings of England's match against Switzerland today.

Employers will be converting conference rooms into makeshift auditoriums for office screenings of England's match against Switzerland today.

Many firms have hired large screens for the match, which kicks off at 5pm, while others have given workers the option of finishing early to cheer England on for Euro 2004.

The Tesco supermarket chain has allowed some staff to arrange time off before and after the big game through flexible working options. For those who are still working at 5pm, hundreds of TVs have been placed in staff canteens across the country so the match can be watched during breaks, and before or after shifts.

Many stores will be keeping staff and customers updated by relaying scores over the public address system and at checkouts. Manchester City Council is to show the game in the city centre's Exchange Square on a giant screen surrounded by amphitheatre-style seating. Brent Cross shopping centre in London is also erecting a 100-seat auditorium in the mall.

The Swiss watch company, Swatch, has offered the 200 staff at its Hampshire head office the opportunity to leave at 4.30pm to see the match. The firm will operate on a skeleton staff and those who decide to go home early are expected to make up the lost hours at a later date. For those who continue to work, the game will be shown on TV screens in the rest room.

Meanwhile, some smaller businesses are shutting for the duration of the game. Joey Jones, a carpet fitter at Styles Carpets in Bow, east London, said his boss was closing early. "We're all going down the pub. We're just shutting a little bit earlier. The boss is coming down but I don't think he will be getting all the drinks in, " he said.

The Swiss ambassador, Bruno Spinner, has invited around 100 embassy associates to a screening of the match at his residence in Baker Street, London. Beer and sausages will be served, and the embassy's employees will also join the ambassador.

Armin Loetscher, owner of the St Moritz Swiss restaurant and club in Soho, London, said the evening would be a patriotic affair. "We have Swiss television in the basement. We have Swiss flags up, no English flags," he said. The All Party Parliamentary Football Club has organised a special screening of the game in a ministerial conference room for MPs. Clive Betts, the MP for Sheffield Attercliffe who is chairman of the club, said the Commons' debating chamber might well be deserted for the scheduled second reading of the legislation on the Public Audit Bill for Wales.

Claire Brunert of the London Ambulance Service was not expecting a quiet evening. She said a full emergency service was needed after a rise in incidents following Sunday night's England match. "We took 26 per cent more 999 calls than on a normal Sunday and after the final whistle we took 587 calls - many to disturbances in residential areas and outside pubs. If it's anything like Sunday, we'll have our hands full," she said.