Belfast Telegraph

Portadown face wait over league suspension after late £5,000 fine is paid

By Stuart McKinley and Jonny Bell

Portadown face an anxious wait to see if their opening game of the season against Coleraine will be back on after they paid their outstanding £5,000 fine.

After being hit with a fine, a transfer embargo and a 12-point deduction for making undisclosed payments to players - all within the last four months - the Shamrock Park club has now been suspended by the Irish FA.

Manager Pat McGibbon had been preparing his heavily re-built squad for Saturday's opening Danske Bank Premiership game of the season away to Coleraine, but the latest embarrassing episode in the club's recent history means that match is now off because a £5,000 fine imposed back in April was not paid.

The money has since been paid.

However, under IFA rules the suspension cannot be lifted until Monday.

The IFA's disciplinary committee is to meet on Wednesday night to discuss the matter. It does have the power to lift the suspension.

A statement released to the Belfast Telegraph by the IFA yesterday said: "The Irish Football Association today confirmed that its Disciplinary Committee has suspended Portadown Football Club from all affiliated football for non-payment of disciplinary fees.

"The suspension, which comes into effect immediately, will remain in place until the Monday after any payment is made - in accordance with Article 9.3 of the Irish FA's Disciplinary Code."

Article 9.3 reads: "Should a suspension be imposed on a club due to failure by that club to pay a fine, the suspension will remain in effect until the Monday following receipt of payment."

Under Northern Ireland Football League rules, Portadown will forfeit the game and Coleraine will be awarded the first three points of the season if the suspension stands.

Northern Ireland Football League Managing Director Andrew Johnston admitted that the ban on Portadown is a major blow ahead of Saturday’s big kick-off, with the official launch of the season taking place at Windsor Park this evening.

“We have received a copy of the letter that has been sent to Portadown by the Irish Football Association informing them of the suspension,” he said.

“That takes them out of Saturday and that then has a huge impact on the commencement of the season and trying to be upbeat about the launch.

“It is upsetting for Coleraine too, who would have been anticipating a large gate for the opening game of the season.”

Portadown have been under investigation by both NIFL and the IFA since March.

Firstly they were brought in to face questions over payments made to midfielder Tim Mouncey, who was registered as an amateur.

They escaped punishment on that issue, but were hit with a fine of £10,000 and banned from signing professional players until next summer when they were deemed to have made undisclosed payments to striker Gary Twigg.

The fine was later reduced to £5,000 on appeal, but it is because the Ports had not paid up that they were suspended.

In June the IFA came down even harder on the Shamrock Park club after they were found to have paid Peter McMahon while he was registered as an amateur.

This time the punishment was a 12-point deduction, leaving McGibbon with a further mountain to climb in addition to only being able to sign amateur players.

The Ports’ appeal against the deduction, which was handed down following irregularities in the contract of winger McMahon, is due to be heard by the IFA’S Appeals Committee tomorrow evening.

There are further questions for the club to answer, too. It is understood that at least one player has been asked to appear before NIFL as they investigate his transfer from professional status to amateur when signing for Portadown this summer.

  • League of Ireland champions Dundalk last night beat BATE Borisov of Belarus 3-0 to reach the final qualifying round of the Champions League. Stephen Kenny’s side are now just two games away from reaching the multi-million pound group stage of Europe’s most prestigious competition, with the worst case scenario being a place in the Europa League group stage.

Portadown briefing

Manager: Pat McGibbon

Captain: Keith O’Hara

Star Player: Robbie Garrett

Ins: Brendan Shannon, Adam Rodgers, Aaron Haire, Ciaran Doherty, Ben Murdock, Niall Henderson, Stephen Hughes, Chris McGaughey, Eoin Kirwan, Sam Simpson

Outs: Ross Redman, Chris Ramsey, Michael Gault, Jordan Lyttle, Marcio Soares, Philip Lowry, Gary Twigg, Marty Marron, Chris Casement

Verdict: 10th

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