Belfast Telegraph

IFA vow to rule on Portadown saga despite another delay

By Graham Luney

The Irish FA has promised Portadown it would issue a "full reasoned decision" within a week regarding their appeals against a 12-point deduction and suspension from all football related activity.

Portadown presented further evidence to the Irish FA's appeals board last night while "clarification" was sought from the original disciplinary committee.

The club's 12-point deduction was imposed as far back as June 14 after they were found to have paid Peter McMahon while he was registered as an amateur.

The suspension related to the club's failure to pay disciplinary fees for undisclosed payments to players, and it led to the postponement of Portadown's Danske Bank Premiership opener at Coleraine in August.

A £5,000 fine was imposed, along with a transfer embargo preventing the club from signing players on professional terms until June 2017, after irregularities were found in payments made to former striker Gary Twigg.

The fine was eventually paid, but the IFA's Disciplinary Committee decided to keep the ban in place, although subsequently it was lifted until the appeal hearing. Other meetings failed to progress the matter as on one occasion Ports officials were not available to attend, and on another the IFA requested "additional documentary evidence" before they could make a ruling.

Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry couldn't hide his frustration as the disciplinary saga rumbled on. "This episode has been unfair on so many parties, but if Portadown had paid money on time and everything was okay our match would have proceeded," he said.

"We lost a significant amount of money due to the postponement of our opening day match and it's difficult enough to keep a football club in business without having to deal with a loss of revenue such as this.

"The Irish FA chief-executive (Patrick Nelson) knows my views and NIFL representatives are very frustrated as well, but perhaps there is a fear of making a wrong decision as it will get negative publicity.

"I don't like knocking the Irish FA because they have made much progress over the years, but you simply need to have faith that there are people there who can make the right decisions. This issue has been handled in an awful manner and we are now into October and it's unresolved. I have no desire to see any club punished, but we need to know are we replaying the game or being awarded the points with a 3-0 win? Is it really that complicated?

"I'd go as far as say it's a disgraceful state of affairs. This is our senior football league in Northern Ireland and we simply need leaders who can make the right decisions."

An Irish FA statement read: "The Appeals Board of the Irish FA reconvened this evening to consider the appeals from Portadown Football Club against decisions by the Irish FA Disciplinary Committee.

"The Board heard further evidence from Portadown Football Club and additional clarifications from the Disciplinary Committee. The Appeals Board will now consider the evidence heard and will provide a full, reasoned decision in writing within the next seven days."

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