Play… or you’re out! FA tell clubs they must play their FA Cup third-round ties next weekend or risk FORFEITING their place in the competition amid coronavirus chaos
- The FA has warned clubs they must play next weekend’s FA Cup third-round ties
- Three Premier League games have been postponed amid coronavirus outbreaks
- Fulham could be forced to field academy players against QPR as a result
- Clubs have been told to play if they have 14 players fit and available
The FA have warned clubs that they have to play next weekend’s FA Cup third-round fixtures or risk forfeiting the tie.
With Fulham’s coronavirus crisis — which has caused them to have two Premier League games postponed — having grown in recent days, they could be forced to field academy players in the tie against QPR next Saturday depending on how many players are available by then.
But there will be even greater fears for non-league clubs such as Marine, Chorley, Borehamwood and Stockport County who will undergo testing paid for by the FA this week which could see asymptomatic players ruled out and clubs struggling to field a team.
FA has warned clubs they must play their FA Cup third-round games or risk forfeiting the tie
English football has been plunged into fresh chaos amid a surge in positive coronavirus cases
Clubs have been told to play if they have 14 players fit — though even that may not be enough if a team do not have a goalkeeper.
The FA are encouraging clubs to test a wider pool of players outside the regular first-team squad in case of multiple positives.
A player cannot be drafted in at the last minute unless they have tested negative for coronavirus, so the FA are keen that fringe academy players are also tested in case they are needed to make up numbers.
Fulham have seen their two recent Premier League fixtures postponed due to Covid outbreaks
Fulham’s outbreak has led to their games against Spurs and Burnley being called off, as the club attempts to contain the spread. With the fourth round set for the weekend of January 23 — a week earlier than usual — and replays having already been jettisoned because of the fixture build-up, there is little prospect of rescheduling games.
Premier League clubs have midweek fixtures in both weeks running up the fourth round and there is a full round of EFL fixtures on January 19-20. In reality, any team that cannot fulfil a fixture will forfeit the tie and their opponents be awarded a bye.
The FA will hope the guidance they have sent round to clubs will ensure almost all the third-round ties can be played, as a raft of cancellations would be embarrassing.
However, the FA says teams must play their fixtures if they have 14 fit players available