Portadown braced for a further three-point deduction in Danske Bank Premiership
Portadown's survival mission in the Danske Bank Premiership is expected to become even tougher tonight when it's confirmed that Ards will be awarded the points from Saturday's match at Shamrock Park.
The Ports won the game 3-1 but midfielder Robert Garrett, who scored in the match, should have been suspended.
NIFL and Ards formally raised the issue of Garrett's appearance and the Irish FA Disciplinary Committee will meet tonight to rule on the matter.
Niall Currie's side are expected to be handed a 3-0 win, with the Ports being fined and their three-point deduction will leave them on a total of minus three after 14 matches.
Ards will move into seventh position, above Dungannon Swifts and on to 20 points.
The Ports already faced a mountain to climb after their 12-point deduction imposed before the start of the season for making irregular payments to players and, just to add to their despair, this latest error could easily have been avoided as Ards raised concerns about Garrett's eligibility before the game.
Ports manager Vinny Arkins was told that Garrett was free to play but club officials hadn't realised that the 2015-16 rules, which saw suspensions applied two weeks after a fifth yellow card, no longer applied as they were changed in the close season and clubs were informed.
According to the IFA website, Garrett was to serve a one-match ban, effective from last Monday, October 24 and the association has been left with no option but to punish Portadown.
In fact, the Ports are expecting a double blow today as the Northern Ireland Football League will confirm they are fining the club following comments made by Trevor Marshall and published in the Portadown Times on Friday, October 21.
The interview, which Marshall gave with the full support of the Board of Directors, claimed that an NIFL payment which was to go towards the £5,000 fine issued after irregularities were found in payments made to former striker Gary Twigg, was late.
NIFL strongly dispute this version of events and will move to protect their reputation by issuing a statement today which includes details of a fine for the Ports.
Portadown supporters, who lifted their boycott of Saturday's game, will have an opportunity to express their anger at the club's difficulties at a meeting at Shamrock Park on Tuesday, November 8 at 8pm. There is every chance that their boycott could be back on following the Garrett debacle.
A three-point deduction would leave the Ports, who are looking for a new permanent boss, eight points behind second from bottom Carrick Rangers.