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Portadown misery compounded as NIFL dish out £1,000 fine

By Graham Luney

Portadown's season from hell took another turn for the worse yesterday when they were slapped with a £1,000 fine from the Northern Ireland Football League.

NIFL chiefs were unimpressed with comments made by Trevor Marshall - with the backing of the Shamrock Park board - in the Portadown Times claiming that the club failed to pay an earlier fine because of a delay in receiving NIFL cash.

Coleraine were awarded a 3-0 win from the postponed Premiership fixture between the clubs on August 6 after the Ports had been suspended from all football activity for the non-payment of a fine.

That financial penalty 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.

In response to Marshall's claim that a payment was late, NIFL said the comments "grossly misrepresented the situation" and "caused considerable embarrassment to the Board of Directors of NIFL and has undermined the reputation and integrity of the Company".

The fine is the latest blow to the beleaguered Ports, who played Robert Garrett last weekend when he should have been suspended.

Garrett should have sat out the Ards clash after he had picked up five yellow cards. The Ports won 3-1 with Garrett scoring but the North Down side have subsequently been awarded the three points and a 3-0 victory.

In the Portadown Times interview, Marshall stated: “With no income over the close season and costs continuing to run, it is always a difficult time to manage cashflow. A payment was due from the Northern Ireland Football League for £4,200 which we agreed would go towards the £5,000 Twigg fine.

“This NIFL payment was late and left us without the funds to cover the fine. A ‘payment on account’ of £3,000 was made to the IFA on the strength of the NIFL payment but this was delayed when a ‘stop’ was placed on the cheque and the £3,000 paid personally by a director.”

NIFL hit back yesterday, issuing the fine to Portadown in a statement which read: “The Board of Directors of NIFL have been made aware of a statement made on behalf of Portadown Football Club which appeared in the Portadown Times on Friday October 21, 2016.

“In that statement it was alleged that a fine imposed by the Disciplinary Committee of the IFA had not been paid because of a lack of income in the close season. It was also stated that Portadown were going to put a payment which the club expected to receive from NIFL (£4,200) towards the payment of the imposed fine. A representative of the club then directly said that the payment from NIFL was late and as a result of this a cheque of £3,000 had to be stopped.

“After investigation by a commission appointed by the Directors of NIFL, which included the consideration of the written response from the club, NIFL wish to make clear that this statement grossly misrepresented the situation. The NIFL advance is only payable to a club once a signed Participation Agreement is received from that club. The advance to Portadown Football Club was made available on August 2, 2016 within 24 hours of the receipt of the club’s signed agreement. It should be noted that the Participation Agreements were issued to clubs on July 29, 2016, a week after Portadown Football Club’s deadline to pay their disciplinary fine.

“This situation has caused considerable embarrassment to the Board of Directors of NIFL and has undermined the reputation and integrity of the Company. After consideration, it has been decided to impose a sanction on Portadown Football Club by way of a fine of £1,000.”

The Ports, hit with a 12-point deduction imposed before the start of the season for making irregular payments to players, are on minus three points, despite having won four matches, and they must visit resurgent Glentoran this afternoon.

Vinny Arkins, who has taken temporary charge following the resignation of Pat McGibbon, must now rally his troops but the fans must be wondering when the next storm is coming.

Supporters know the team need their support and a boycott of the Ards game was called off but the Garrett saga and this latest fine does test their patience.

Belfast Telegraph


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