Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville and Ballymena United striving for home advantage in the lucrative play-offs

 

By Alex Mills

Cliftonville and Ballymena United both have a chance of staking a claim for a Europa League play-off bonus on what is sure to be a dramatic final day of Danske Bank Premiership action on Saturday.

The team that finishes in fourth place in the final league table will gain home advantage for the end-of-season qualifiers, which carries a lucrative ticket to Europe.

As it stands, Cliftonville, in the temporary control of Tommy Breslin, would host Dungannon Swifts, while the Sky Blues would entertain Gary Hamilton's Glenavon - but it could all change by 5pm on Saturday.

Title-chasing Linfield are due to leave a calling card at Solitude and require only one point to earn them the league title, while there will be little love lost when Irish Cup finalists Coleraine face David Jeffrey's United.

The team that finishes in fourth will have home advantage for the semi-final, played on Monday, May 8, and the final on Friday, May 12. The schedule is fourth v seventh and fifth v sixth.

And the Premiership promotion/relegation play-off, over two legs, will take place on Tuesday, May 9 and Friday, May 12. Carrick Rangers will be hoping to preserve their top-flight status against either Institute or Ballyclare Comrades.

Meanwhile, the Irish Football Association has released the club licensing for the 2017-18 season.

Uefa Cup licences have been awarded to nine of this season's Premiership clubs, with Ards, Carrick Rangers and Portadown merely having requirements for the Premiership licences.

Uefa Cup licences: Ballinamallard United (Shamrock Park), Ballymena United (Seaview), Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Dungannon Swifts (Seaview), Glenavon, Glentoran, Linfield.

Premiership licences: Ards (Bangor Fuels Arena), Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Crusaders, Dungannon Swifts, Glenavon, Glentoran, Linfield, Portadown.

Promotion licences: Ballyclare Comrades, Dergview (Ferney Park), Institute, Larne (Loughshore Hotel Arena), Warrenpoint Town.

Championship licences: Annagh United, Armagh City, Ballyclare Comrades, Banbridge Town, Dergview, Donegal Celtic, H&W Welders, Institute, Knockbreda, Larne, Limavady United, Lisburn Distillery, Loughgall, Lurgan Celtic, Newry City AFC, PSNI, Warrenpoint Town.

Championship licences refused: Dundela, Bangor, Newington YC, Tobermore Utd.

Europa League Play-Offs Semi Finals

Monday, May 8: fourth v seventh; fifth v sixth

Final, Friday, May12: Winner of Semi-Final 1 v Winner of Semi-Final 2

Note: The higher-ranked club will have home advantage in the final.

NIFL Championship Pre Play-Offs

Tuesday, May 2, 1st Leg: third-placed club v second-placed club

Friday, May 5, 2nd Leg: second-placed club v third-placed club

Danske Bank Premiership Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs

Tuesday, May 9: Winner of Championship Pre Play-Off v Carrick Rangers

Friday, May 12: Carrick Rangers v Winner of Championship Pre Play-Off

NIFL Championship Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs

Tuesday, May 2, 1st Leg: second-placed club in PIL v 11th-placed club in Championship (Armagh City)

Friday, May 5, 2nd Leg: 11th-placed club in Championship (Armagh City) v second-placed club in PIL.

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