Shrewsbury Town still waiting for outcome of Southampton FA Cup tie as Premier League seek clarity

Shrewsbury Town are still waiting to find out whether they will be allowed to play their FA Cup third round tie at Southampton – with Premier League bosses understood to want clarity before postponing a top flight fixture.

A sticker on the floor saying please observe social distancing at the Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium the home of Shrewsbury Town during the Covid-19 Pandemic. (AMA)
A sticker on the floor saying please observe social distancing at the Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium the home of Shrewsbury Town during the Covid-19 Pandemic. (AMA)

With a little over a week until the competition's fourth round ties will take place, Town remain in the dark about the third round fixture that was initially scheduled to take place last Saturday evening.

The tie was postponed after a significant Covid-19 spike, the most widespread a professional English club is believed to have experienced in a single breakout, at the Montgomery Waters Meadow club and all Shrewsbury players and staff remain in self-isolation until at least Friday.

Players and staff who tested positive will only return to training at Town's Sundorne Castle training base, which has been shut down, if they provide a negative test.

The suggestion is that the clash against Ralph Hasenhuttl's side could take place next Wednesday – the only viable date to schedule the fixture – instead of Southampton's televised Premier League fixture at Leeds United.

It is thought the delay in a decision is down to the top flight governing body's determination to ensure Shrews can fulfil the fixture should they opt to shelve the Leeds and Southampton clash.

The authorities are keen to see Shrewsbury remain in the competition and not forfeit their place, and the likelihood is that the League One club will be given every opportunity possible to return negative tests before authorities make a decision to postpone next week's top flight fixture at Elland Road, which will be broadcast to millions globally.

Town did not send a youth team to compete in their third round fixture – as was done by both Villa and Derby County – and stated they were unable to fulfil the tie last Saturday, which was set to be broadcast live on BT Sport.

But Steve Cotterill's side were given a lifeline in the competition as the FA's independent Professional Game Board met at the beginning of this week to discuss the tie's fate.

A home tie against holders and record winners Arsenal awaits as the prize in round four. The Gunners' busy schedule means there is no chance to catch up on the fourth round tie if Shrews' third round clash at Saints went ahead on fourth round weekend next weekend.

Shrewsbury have been impressed with the willingness of the authorities to get the tie on.

More Covid-19 testing is taking place at Town this week after the PFA-funded twice-weekly testing kicked in at the beginning of the week.

Sundorne Castle is shut until Friday at the earliest, by which time the bulk of the self-isolation comes to an end, though negative tests will be required for training to be resumed.

The authorities this morning remained to be tight-lipped on the tie's fate.

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