Sunday’s scheduled Airtricity Premier Division game between Shelbourne and St Patrick’s Athletic has been postponed after the Saints were stranded in Bulgaria following their famous Europa Conference League win over CSKA Sofia on Thursday night.
The Dublin side have been unable to secure a charter flight home and the FAI confirmed tonight that the league game will be canceled as Tim Clancy’s side are unlikely to be back in Ireland until Sunday morning.
“Following today’s confirmation from St Patrick’s Athletic that their squad will not return to Ireland from their last European game in Bulgaria before Sunday morning, it has been decided that the SSE Airtricity Premier Division game between Shelbourne and St Pat’s on Sunday afternoon, December 7. Tolka Park will now not take place as planned,” read the FAI statement.
“The FAI will now review this matter internally and a further announcement regarding next steps will be made in due course.”
St Pat’s celebrated a famous 1-0 win in Sofia thanks to Serge Atakayi’s late goal. Over 4,000 tickets have already been sold for Thursday’s second leg at Tallaght Stadium.
The Saints said in a statement that UEFA regulations require them to charter their own aircraft rather than use commercial flights and have been unable to secure a return flight.
“We appreciate the FAI’s understanding of the predicament we find ourselves in and their sensible decision to cancel tomorrow’s match.
“Under UEFA regulations, the use of charter flights is mandatory from the third qualifying round. Due to the well-known current difficulties in the airline industry, we and our travel agents have had enormous difficulties in securing charter flights, resulting in the players and staff leaving Sofia and only being able to return to Dublin in the early hours of Sunday morning.
“Throughout the week we have kept the FAI and UEFA informed of our predicament and were grateful for their support. While we understand that many fans would have been looking forward to the game, we regret that due to these unprecedented circumstances this game will not go ahead as planned. “
Shelbourne has yet to comment on the game’s postponement.