Arsenal vs Lincoln City: Covent Garden Tube shut after football fans set off smoke flares

Francesca Gillett

A busy central London Tube station was shut after flares were set off among crowds of rowdy football fans.

Smoke from the flares blew into Covent Garden Tube forcing London Underground staff to close the station to passengers on Saturday afternoon..

Crowds of jovial football fans were seen chanting and cheering outside The White Lion pub on James Street.

Passersby called it an "impvasion" as the area outside the station was rammed with Lincoln fans ahead of their FA Cup match against Arsenal this evening.

Covent Garden was packed with football fans on Saturday afternoon. (Ian Le Breton)

The Met Police’s football unit said on Twitter: “Due to smoke from flares entering Covent Garden tube the station has been closed.”

They said passengers should walk to Leicester Square or Holborn Tube stations instead, and added “Team Lincoln”.

Another photo taken in the throng of the crowds shows a man standing on top of a telephone box with a flag.

A man stands on a telephone box in Covent Garden. (Jack Hennell)

People in Covent Garden to Twitter and said groups of fans were "singing all sorts" and "in fine voice" while others called it an "Impvasion".

Alistair Ross said: "Lincoln fans have overrun Covent Garden. Police have closed the station."

Ian Le Broton said: "Covent Garden full of imps. Good luck imps - great singing!"

Arsenal are playing Lincoln City - who are nicknamed the imps - in the FA Cup quarter final at 5.30pm today at the Emirates stadium.

Transport for London said on Twitter the station was closed and was exit only.

At just after 4pm, TfL said the Tube station had been reopned.