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Pat wants a united front as chiefs feel the heat

By Graham Luney

Pat McGibbon has issued a rallying cry to Portadown fans, urging them not to walk away from the club. The Ports boss wants the supporters to get behind the team but fan unrest is growing and chairman Roy McMahon admitted yesterday that fresh faces will be added to the board.

A scathing Irish FA Appeals Board report laid bare shoddy administration, and a 12-point deduction for making irregular payments to players remains in place.

But speaking ahead of his side’s home clash with Coleraine tomorrow, McGibbon said: “I would like to urge Portadown supporters to come and support us on Saturday in our home game against Coleraine.

“Management and players alike are together working hard to turn the club’s fortunes around on the pitch. At a time of transition and with a player embargo and off the field issues being highlighted, your support is vital and much appreciated.

"On a positive note, another local 17-year-old, Zac Wilson, made a very encouraging debut for the club against Crusaders so with other players from the Under-20 group progressing well, the future signs are promising.

"Myself and the management team, experienced players and younger players alike would really value your support on Saturday in the 5.30pm kick-off."

In his judgment, appeals board chairman Joseph McCrisken accused Portadown of a "breathtaking breach of sporting integrity" and said their attempts to "deceive the Irish FA" by altering the contract documents of former player Peter McMahon "potentially constituted a criminal offence". An appeal against a 12-point deduction for making irregular payments to players was thrown out, while Coleraine were awarded a 3-0 victory from the postponed Premiership fixture between the clubs in August when the Ports were suspended from all football activity for non-payment of a fine.

The deduction was imposed after they were found to have paid former player McMahon while he was registered as an amateur, while a financial penalty was dished out, 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.

McGibbon's side are on minus six points, 10 points adrift of Carrick Rangers.

Portadown's board has come in for fierce criticism from fans but chairman Roy McMahon said the ruling had "shafted" the club.

The supporters, however, feel the board has serious questions to answer. McMahon has conceded boardroom changes are inevitable, saying: "A means of restructuring the club's Board of Directors to add some fresh faces has been discussed by officials since the summer.

"Now the IFA appeals process has finished, we will take steps to speed up that situation.

"We have identified various problems and shortcomings and aim to help address those by adding to, rather than changing, the current Board of Directors. We will now look at suitable candidates."

The Portadown Supporter Society had issued a statement highlighting their anger at the depressing events.

"We have absolutely no confidence in the board of Portadown Football Club or the current structure of the club," they stated. "We would urge shareholders to immediately call an EGM with a view to an appropriate restructuring of the club at boardroom level. After the events of recent days we feel that this is the only way forward for Portadown Football Club. We would call for a withdrawal of all voluntary labour around the club if our calls for change are not met or measures put in place by this Monday."

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