Clubs are told they MUST play FA Cup third-round ties with just 14 fit players as concerns mount over rescheduling games in increasingly congested calendar
- There are fears that the FA Cup’s iconic round could be decimated by the virus
- Dozens of matches across English football have been postponed in recent weeks
- The Premier League has also adopted the 14-player rule – with some exceptions
Clubs have been warned they must play FA Cup third-round ties with only 14 fit players because there is little space in the congested calendar for matches to be rescheduled.
Amid fears the third round will be decimated due to the surge in Covid-19 cases, the FA have agreed to pay for all non-Premier League teams to be tested 72 hours before kick-off next weekend.
Dozens of recent matches have been postponed after outbreaks in squads. But the FA have told all clubs to ensure they have enough players tested to cope with positive results.
Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in August’s FA Cup Final in a behind-closed-doors affair at Wembley
The Premier League have also introduced the 14-player rule, but have since dealt with possible call-offs on a case-by-case basis.
Manchester City’s clash with Everton was postponed this week despite Pep Guardiola’s side missing only five players, after it was decided that there was a risk City players could infect their opponents.
In a statement, the FA said: ‘While we would recognise the difficulties presented by Covid-19 to clubs, unfortunately, due to the unprecedented circumstances we are dealing with this season, there is limited scope for a fixture to be rescheduled prior to the date of the next round.
Everton v Manchester City was postponed after infections rose among Pep Guardiola’s men
‘Therefore, in order to keep the competition on schedule and mitigate the risk of causing disruption to the wider fixture schedule, clubs will be expected to fulfil FA Cup fixtures providing they have a minimum of 14 Covid-19 negative players available.’
If a club is unable to fill the required squad places, they can appeal to the FA.
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