Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville in rage after Irish FA rap

By Graham Luney

Cliftonville have reacted angrily to Irish Football Association fines dished out to the north Belfast club and Linfield following the "unacceptable behaviour of supporters" at the County Antrim Shield semi-final.

The match at Windsor Park on Tuesday, October 29 was marred by sectarian singing in the stands.

Linfield secured a 4-1 win to progress to next week's final against Crusaders but during the second half referee Hugh Carvill asked for an announcement to be made over the public address system, urging supporters to stop the offensive singing.

The Irish FA issued a statement yesterday disclosing that both clubs had been fined £3,000 following the incidents.

An additional £250 fine was imposed on Cliftonville after Reds fans caused an "explosion" during the game.

However, the Reds reacted to the fines with anger and dismay and are considering making an appeal.

The club issued a statement yesterday outlining their frustration at the Irish FA's punishment.

It stated: "Cliftonville Football Club have been informed of the outcome of the disciplinary hearing in regards to the County Antrim Shield Semi Final game between Linfield and Cliftonville at Windsor Park on October 29, 2013.

"The Club are currently considering the outcome notified to us by the Irish Football Association with a view to appealing the matter.

"Cliftonville are very disappointed with the conduct of the IFA in respect of their statement issued concerning this, considering many other similar cases and other matters that they have chosen not to publicise in recent seasons.

"Given the content of their statement, which goes beyond the official notification received by the Club on this matter, Cliftonville will be seeking further advice."

Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor believed the Reds were being 'make an example' of.

He said: "Cliftonville Football Club take their responsibilities very seriously and, where fault lies with the Club, we will respect any decisions and we will have taken appropriate action to deal with issues that have arisen.

"However, when the Club believes they have been unjustly accused of any matter and, indeed, feel that the Club are being used as a vehicle to 'make an example' then we will vigorously defend the position of our Club."

The Irish FA punishment follows the attendance of officials from both clubs at a hearing before the Disciplinary Committee on January 8.

During that hearing and a subsequent hearing on Tuesday this week, the Committee heard evidence, including submissions from both clubs, in relation to the conduct of supporters attending the semi-final.

Both clubs denied they were liable for any breach of the IFA Disciplinary Code, however the football body took a different view.

The Irish FA statement added: "In accordance with the Disciplinary Code both clubs have been informed of their right of appeal to the IFA Appeals Board as directed in Article 14 of the Irish Football Association's Articles of Association.

"In handing down unprecedented sanctions in this instance, the IFA repeats its determination to promote, foster and develop football for all in Northern Ireland and in doing so create a family friendly atmosphere throughout all levels of the game, free from racism, sectarianism, sexism or hooliganism."

While Linfield and Cliftonville will feel they are being singled out for punishment by the Irish FA, Ards officials must be sweating on their fate too.

There was sectarian chanting at Clandeboye Park in Decemer when Ards faced Cliftonville.

The Irish FA statement, which can be viewed in full on their website, outlines the association's disciplinary rules including Article 20.3 of their code.

It states that when supporters use contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, colour, language, religion, origin, disability, sexual orientation or gender at a match, a minimum fine of £1,000 shall be imposed on the club concerned regardless of the question of culpable conduct or culpable oversight.

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