(This page may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
Up to 100,000 fans are headed for the city of Lens, which is hosting the England v Wales match, against a backdrop of strike action and unrestA British invasion of a French town for the England-Wales Euro 2016 clash could see thousands stranded with nowhere to stay.
Up to 100,000 fans could be caught up in widespread industrial unrest for the fixture in a host city less than half the size of Dudley.
Hotel managers and landlords vowed to turn away rowdy supporters and refuse to serve them alcohol in Lens, which has accommodation for less than 1,000 and only 20 bars.
The politician responsible for security told the Mirror thousands of security staff will search vehicles for “strong alcohol” amid a 24-hour street drinking ban.
The match on June 16 comes just two days after nationwide walkouts could cause fuel shortages and see trains and flights cancelled.
Rail workers halted approximately half of French train services on Wednesday as a standoff between the militant CGT union and the Socialist government over proposed employment law reform dragged on.
Worried UK police chiefs have warned up to 70,000 ticketless fans to stay away from Lens.
England fans fought running battles with police last time they played in Lens for the 1998 World Cup game against Colombia.
Back then Lens struggled to cope with 50,000 fans, only 10,000 of which did not have tickets.
The boss at the main Hotel Bollaert, next to the Bollaert-Delelis Stadium, is refusing to take bookings from Brit fans and will serve only water.
Isabelle Parrain said: “I won’t have any of those fans here. They drink more and more and get very violent and we have to call the police.“We know there will be problems but we can’t all just close.“I’m going to say to guests ‘you must drink water and you must speak in French’.”
Mrs Parrain claims she was attacked, while pregnant, by England fans at the hotel during France 98. She said when she stopped one group trying to break in to rooms they tried to punch her.
She is hoping to fill her hotel with media staff and stadium employees.She added: “I’m not looking forward to this tournament if it’s the same sort of people. They are loud and aggressive.
“I think Wales fans are the same. The only difference is the shirt. They all come from the UK.
“We can’t understand why they all come if they haven’t got tickets. It’s not normal.”
Lens has just four hotels and a handful of BnBs which are sold out hosting 596 people.
A temporary campsite will be set up six miles outside the city which will squeeze in another 400.Lens has a population of 36,000, smaller than its football stadium’s 38,000 capacity
It is less than half the size of UK towns such as Dudley, Bury and Scunthorpe and less than a quarter of the size of Slough.
The former mining community boasts two of the biggest slag heaps in Europe.Thibeut Fregy, manager of the popular MacEwans Bar, said the beer pumps could be turned off in Lens if there is any trouble.
He said: “The city will be overwhelmed because there are not enough bars to accommodate all these people.“The mayor has been very fussy and if the hooligans arrive we will stop serving alcohol.“The English love their football but they don’t respect the city.”
Half a million Brits will cross the Channel for Euro 2016 but face having nowhere to stay as entire cities are sold out.Accommodation prices in areas around Lens have shot up by up to 140%for the day the Brits arrive, compared to prices the month after the tournament finishes.