Sunday’s scheduled Airtricity Premier Division game between Shelbourne and St Patrick’s Athletic has been postponed after the Saints became stranded in Bulgaria after their famous Europa Conference League win over CSKA Sofia on Thursday night.
The Dublin outfit were unable to secure a charter plane home and the FAI have confirmed tonight that the league encounter is off as Tim Clancy’s side don’t expect to be back in Ireland until Sunday morning.
“Following tonight’s confirmation from St Patrick’s Athletic that their squad will not return to Ireland from their recent European game in Bulgaria until Sunday morning, it has been decided that the SSE Airtricity Premier Division game between Shelbourne and St Pat’s on Sunday afternoon, 7 August, at Tolka Park will now not go ahead as scheduled,” and FAI statement read.
“The FAI will now review this matter internally and a further announcement will be made in due course regarding next steps.”
St Pat’s recorded a famous 1-0 win in Sofia thanks to Serge Atakayi’s late strike. Over 4,000 tickets have already been sold for Thursday’s second leg at Tallaght Stadium.
The Saints said in a statement that under UEFA regulations they were required to hire their own plane rather than use commercial flights and had been unable to secure return passage.
“We appreciate the FAI’s understanding of the predicament that we find ourselves in and their sensible decision to call off tomorrow’s fixture.
“Under UEFA regulations, the use of charters is mandatory from the third qualifying round on. Because of the current difficulties in the aviation industry, which are well known, we and our travel brokers have had immense difficulty sourcing charters, the result of which has left the players and staff in Sofia and not in a position to return to Dublin until the early hours of Sunday morning.
“Throughout the week we appraised the FAI & UEFA of our predicament and were grateful for their assistance. We understand many fans would have been looking forward to the game, we regret that this fixture is not going ahead as scheduled due to these unprecedented circumstances. “
Shelbourne have yet to comment on the postponement of the fixture.