Belfast Telegraph

Mid-Ulster rivals clash in new Irish League suspension row

By Graham Luney

A New Year is about to dawn but it's the same old Irish League pantomime with yet another eligibility row exploding in predictable fashion.

Glenavon will fight their corner if there is any move to punish the club for playing David Elebert in the Boxing Day draw with Portadown.

The Ports have asked the Irish FA to look at whether Elebert should have been suspended for the game at Shamrock Park which finished 2-2.

Lurgan Blues chairman Adrian Teer said: "We did seek clarification from the Irish FA, and we were told that David was free to play.

"If the Irish FA believe they need to make a ruling on this matter then I'd like to think we will be able to make our observations and state our case."

Elebert was suspended for one game from December 19 for five bookings, with three during reserve games.

Glenavon believed that after Elebert sat out a reserve match last week he would be eligible for the Ports clash. However Irish FA rules state that bans apply to the "more senior team".

Elebert's fifth yellow card, which triggered the suspension, was picked up in a reserve fixture.

However, Rule 15.4 of the IFA Disciplinary Code states: "A player who receives cautions for more than one team within his club will have his cautions amalgamated and must serve any suspension... with the more senior team."

There may be some sympathy for Glenavon if they were given wrong advice by an Irish FA representative but there is now a chance Portadown could be awarded the three points from the fixture and a 3-0 win.

That will be a huge boost to the Ports’ Premiership survival hopes as their points tally — which has been hit with deductions of its own this term — is just three, 10 adrift of second from bottom Carrick Rangers.

Glenavon defender Kris Lindsay did sit out the Boxing Day game as he is suspended, while manager Gary Hamilton was hit with a six match ban earlier this month.

But Glenavon will cry foul if they are punished for playing Elebert and Teer added: “It’s not up to Glenavon or any other club to decide who is eligibile to play and we sought the Irish FA’s advice because we knew that David has a suspension pending. The advice Glenavon was given was that he was free to play.

“We must wait and see what happens but, as far as we were concerned, we had approval from the governing body that David was eligible to play in the game.”

Ironically, Portadown were punished for fielding an eligible player against Ards earlier this season. Robert Garrett scored in a 3-1 win but the midfielder was suspended for the game and the Ports forfeited the points while Ards were awarded a 3-0 victory.

The next Irish FA disciplinary committee meeting is not scheduled until the second week of January but this case could be discussed earlier.

Meanwhile, the Glenavon exit door remains busy with striker Eoin Bradley leaving the club.

He follows Paddy McCourt out of Mourneview Park after it was confirmed the winger came to a mutual agreement with the club to leave the Lurgan side.

Derry man Bradley has been linked with a return to his former employers Coleraine.

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