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Sunday’s Shels v Pat's clash called off as flight issues see Saints stranded in Sofia

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Serge Atakayi of St Patrick's Athletic celebrates after scoring their winning goal during the UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round first leg match against CSKA Sofia at Stadion Balgarska Armia. Photo: Sportsfile

Serge Atakayi of St Patrick's Athletic celebrates after scoring their winning goal during the UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round first leg match against CSKA Sofia at Stadion Balgarska Armia. Photo: Sportsfile

Serge Atakayi of St Patrick's Athletic celebrates after scoring their winning goal during the UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round first leg match against CSKA Sofia at Stadion Balgarska Armia. Photo: Sportsfile

St Patrick's Athletic's league game with Shelbourne this weekend is off after travel issues left Tim Clancy's side stranded in Sofia.

Issues with the charter scuppered plans for the Saints to travel home on Friday and they were unable to secure alternative arrangements.

They requested a postponement of the Sunday afternoon derby with Shelbourne at Tolka Park but it was not initially granted. However, the FAI said on Friday night that it had been decided the fixture would not go ahead as scheduled following confirmation the Saints return was delayed until the early hours of Sunday morning.

Shels are understood to be furious with developments as they have suffered with postponements on account of European commitments.

Aviation problems have dogged both Irish clubs and their guests this year with staffing issues in Dublin Airport reducing the number of berths available for flights in and out.

North Macedonian club Shkupi were furious this week when they had to land in Shannon before their Europa League game with Shamrock Rovers in Dublin.

And the Saints had to fly out of Knock en route to the first leg in Bulgaria where they enjoyed a famous win over CSKA Sofia to give themselves a major chance of progression.

An FAI statement late on Friday night said the decision was taken after the Saints provided updated travel plans confirming the Sunday morning return.

‘The FAI will now review this matter internally and a further announcement will be made in due course regarding next steps’ said a missive from Abbotstown.

"We appreciate the FAI's understanding of the predicament that we find ourselves in and their sensible decision to call off tomorrow's SSE Airtricity League Premier Division fixture away to Shelbourne," St Pat's said in a statement.

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"Under UEFA regulations, the use of charters for European games 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 and UEFA of our predicament and were grateful for their assistance.

"We understand that 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."


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