McFall: Upheaval won't hit our focus
Portadown boss Ronnie McFall insists it will be business as usual tomorrow when Crusaders arrive in mid-Ulster but the Shamrock Park soap opera took another dark twist last night.
Following hot on the heels of Darren Murray's move to Cliftonville and Michael Gault's pre-contract terms with Crusaders, it looks like talented midfielder Peter McMahon could be heading out of the club.
It is understood Ports directors have reported McMahon to the Irish Football Association in a dispute over treatment relating to an injury sustained in pre-season.
Reports suggest the player's pay has been suspended for what is considered a breach of contract.
A hearing is expected to resolve the stand-off.
Portadown issued a statement last night which read: "We can confirm reports that the club has reported midfielder Peter McMahon to the IFA and have suspended him without pay.
"This is due to Peter's refusal to follow the advice of medical teams in relation to an injury he picked up in pre-season."
It has been an eventful period for Portadown.
While former Linfield and Derry City midfielder Philip Lowry has agreed to join the Ports, rumours continue to swirl over player exits with strong interest in Robert Garrett and Chris Casement.
And Gault is on his way to Seaview next season.
The pending visit of the current Danske Bank Premiership champions is probably the last thing the Irish League's longest serving manager needed after a hectic few days.
"It's a players' market - that's the way it works these days," admitted McFall, who will step aside at the end of the campaign following 30 years in the job.
"Michael (Gault) will be 33 in April, so he has got a good deal - you can't blame him for that. He went about things through the proper channels, as did Crusaders - everything was above board."
The Crues want to snap up Gault this month but the Ports boss is determined to hold onto him and he insists there will be no other players making an exit - including Casement.
"I've spoken to my chairman, Roy McMahon, and he said he has no recollection of an offer being made for the player," he added.
"The transfer speculation at our club is unbelievable.
"I think every club in the country thinks we are having a fire sale or something!"
McFall is hoping hoping the procedure involving Lowry's transfer will be completed in time for him to be included in the squad to face Crusaders.
"We are still awaiting his clearance," added Ronnie.
"We are coming off the back of a dreadful result in midweek against Warrenpoint. The least said about that the better.
"Even though we were missing quite a few players, we simply didn't turn up. It just wasn't good enough.
"We'll have Gault and Tim Mouncey back from suspension and Gary Twigg is ready to return from injury. Hopefully, we'll have Lowry available, so there will be quite a few changes."
Although the Ports have plummeted into the bottom six, McFall is still confident his team can push into the top half of the table.
"We have given ourselves a bit of work to do," he added. "We are currently six points behind the sixth placed team, which is Glentoran. They are quite some distance adrift of Glenavon. So it's a big ask.
"All we can do is focus in the game in front of us and try to pick up as many points as possible to see where it takes us come the end of the term."
Linfiled midfielder Jamie Mulgrew has agreed a two year contract extension.
Blues boss David Healy said: "He's an experienced player of considerable pedigree and of course, he's in the middle of a richly deserved Testimonial season.
"He's shown great loyalty to the club over many years and he's a great role model and example to our younger players."