Portadown must wait as IFA chiefs take more time over crunch verdict
A final decision on Portadown's appeal against the charge of bringing the game into disrepute will be disclosed on Friday.
The Irish Football Association's Appeals Committee convened last night to examine fresh evidence which the Ports claim exonerates them from accusations of making undisclosed payments to players.
An examination of all clubs' financial affairs ended with Portadown being hit with a £10,000 fine and a signings embargo, following alleged discrepancies in fees paid to midfielder Tim Mouncey and striker Gary Twigg.
A further probe into payments made to Darren Murray - who left the club for Cliftonville in January - was found to be unproven, while the case of winger Peter McMahon was referred to the IFA's player registrations sub-committee for further investigation.
Two weeks ago, however, the Shamrock Park club vowed to fight the charges and insisted they had additional exhibits - not supplied at the original hearing - which supported their innocence.
That evidence was presented and considered last night and, following representations from the club and members of the Disciplinary Committee, the IFA's Appeals Board resolved to delay making their final decision until Friday.
A succinct statement from the IFA read: "The Appeals Committee of the Irish FA tonight heard from Portadown FC and representatives of the Disciplinary Committee. A full written decision will be issued on Friday 29th April."
The Ports are currently one of four sides separated by just three points at the foot of the Danske Bank Premiership, where the fight for survival has gone down to the final day.
Although they cannot be automatically relegated by results on the field on Saturday, defeat at Ballymena United - who need three points to support their bid for Europe - could drag Pat McGibbon's men into the Promotion/Relegation Play-Off.
If, however, the IFA uphold the original punishment meted out to the Mid-Ulster club, Portadown could find themselves relegated regardless of what happens at the weekend.
Ratification of their sanction for bringing the game into disrepute would see the Ports' case transferred to the NI Football League, who would then make a separate ruling.
Though it's understood NIFL would be powerless to implement any penalty pertaining to Twigg, any determination that Mouncey was ineligible to play could see the club hit with a deduction of anything up to 22 points - sinking them to the bottom of the table.
Any redistribution of those points would have a further knock-on effect in the relegation scrap, where Ballinamallard United and Warrenpoint Town's tallies would each be boosted by three, while Carrick Rangers could collect an additional eight.