Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Twigg debut will be delayed by IFA holiday

Ronnie McFall has questioned the Irish FA after being told that star signing Gary Twigg cannot play for Portadown in their New Year’s Day battle with Crusaders.

Shamrock Park fans have been relishing the prospect of seeing Twigg in a red shirt since his signing was confirmed at the end of last month, but they will have to peg their excitement for a few extra days, because while the turn of the year also marks the opening of the transfer window across Europe, Northern Ireland seemingly is 24 hours behind the rest of the continent.

Despite the Ports registering the Scottish striker at Windsor Avenue as soon as he put pen to paper and international clearance already being sought from his previous club Shamrock Rovers, Twigg won’t be allowed to turn out for his new club in the first game of 2013 — because staff at the IFA will be on holiday.

The crazy situation means that Twigg, who is scheduled to start training with the Ports within the next fortnight, won’t make his debut until Saturday January 5, when they face Donegal Celtic at Shamrock Park.

“I can’t understand how the transfer window can open on the first of January yet we can’t have a player that we’ve had signed two months in advance,” said McFall, ahead of his team’s home meeting with Dungannon Swifts tomorrow.

“We knew about this when we signed Gary Twigg, but that doesn’t make the situation any better.

“Once the window opens a player who has been signed before that should be eligible to play. There’s no plausible explanation.”

Former Chelsea star Didier Drogba — now playing in China — had a request to be allowed to land a loan move outside of the transfer window rejected by Fifa just yesterday.

While Drogba and Twigg’s situations aren’t identical, neither are they too far removed from each other and McFall believes the football authorities should find a solution.

“I’m not surprised Drogba was turned down. If you give permission to one then you have to do it for everyone,” said McFall.

“The League of Ireland season finished a month ago, but neither Gary Twigg or anyone else can play for a new club until January.

“It’s a problem and it’s something that I think should be looked at with regards to leagues that play summer football.”

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