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McGibbon walks as Arkins left to hold the reins

By Stuart McKinley

Portadown Football Club was last night plunged into more turmoil when manager Par McGibbon sensationally quit after only five months in the job.

The latest dramatic twist in a tale that has been going on since early March comes just three days after the club was informed that its appeal against a 12-point deduction and a suspension that came after failing to pay a fine had failed.

Fans have been critical of the club's board since the full details of the off-field issues, particularly those surrounding the non-payment of the fine, came out and they had been looking to McGibbon to steady the ship.

Now, however, the club has been rocked even further.

McGibbon's last match in charge was a 4-3 League Cup defeat at the hands of league champions Crusaders on Wednesday night.

The 43-year-old former Northern Ireland international was in defiant mood after that match, saying "It is something that we have now drawn a line under.

"We are in October, we are certainly not throwing the towel in in October."

It is believed that a breakdown between McGibbon and the club's board has led to his decision to quit and he informed a club employee late yesterday afternoon that he was stepping down.

In a statement released late last night McGibbon said: "It is with regret that today I stepped down as first-team manager of Portadown Football Club.

"After meeting with the board last night I have had time to digest our discussion. I believe the time is right to step away. I also believe that I have done everything within my power to move Portadown Football Club forward."

Legendary Ports striker Vinny Arkins, who was brought back to the club as assistant manager by McGibbon, will take charge of this afternoon's Danske Bank Premiership match at home to Coleraine, but he doesn't possess the necessary qualifications to take the job on a permanent basis.

With the club still on minus six points after winning just twice in 11 Premiership games this season, a ban on signing professional players still hanging over them and fans being unhappy with off-field issues, the Ports could struggle to attract the calibre of manager that they need to get out of relegation trouble.

McGibbon's statement continued: "As a former player both at youth team and first team level I am devastated to see the current state of the club.

"Recent events have had a demoralising effect on players, management and supporters alike.

"Despite player restrictions and ongoing administrative issues I have been working hard with Vinny (Arkins), the players and the rest of the management staff to improve fortunes on the pitch. However, I have found my roles and responsibilities have been taken up more as a general manager than from a first-team management perspective."

Since former boss Ronnie McFall resigned in March after more than 29 years in charge at the club Portadown have been found guilty of making undisclosed payments to two players - Gary Twigg and Peter McMahon - resulting in a £5,000 fine as well as the ban on signing professionals and the 12-point deduction.

The club had also failed to pay that fine before the start of the season, which resulted in a suspension and the forfeiting of their opening Premiership game of the campaign against Coleraine.

The Bannsiders have also made clear their displeasure at the cancellation of that game.

Belfast Telegraph


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