Belfast Telegraph

Whitey Anderson: Time for IFA disciplinary processes to be reviewed

By Steven Beacom

Former Ballinamallard United manager Whitey Anderson has demanded a review of the way the Irish Football Association deal with disciplinary issues.

Anderson's comments come in the wake of the latest delay in the ongoing saga surrounding Portadown's appeals against a 12-point deduction and suspension from football related activity.

These punishments were handed down in June by the IFA Disciplinary Committee, with the points deduction imposed after the Shamrock Park outfit were deemed to have paid Peter McMahon while he was registered as an amateur.

The suspension came about after irregularities were found in payments made to former striker Gary Twigg.

Portadown were fined £5,000 and had a transfer embargo imposed for a year. When the club didn't settle that fine on time, their opening league match of the season at Coleraine had to be postponed.

The fine was eventually paid, but the IFA's Disciplinary Committee opted to keep the ban in place, although it was subsequently lifted until the appeal hearing.

It was thought that the issues relating to Portadown would finally be resolved on Monday night, only for the IFA to release a statement saying that their Appeals Board had heard further evidence from the mid-Ulster club and additional clarifications from the Disciplinary Committee, adding that a "full, reasoned decision" would be provided within the next seven days.

That led to criticism from Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry about how long the process was taking, while fans of all clubs, most notably from Portadown, remain in the dark regarding where they truly stand this season, with the case of that 12-point deduction still up in the air.

At the moment the Ports are bottom of the table on minus six points. If they won back the 12 they would jump above Carrick Rangers and move one point behind 10th-placed Glentoran.

Anderson, a respected figure in the game, is no stranger to waiting for the IFA to make decisions. In the summer his Ballinamallard team had to wait six weeks until June to play the second leg of their relegation play-off with Institute while the IFA ruled on whether Carrick should have lost points, and subsuqently been relegated, over a touchline ban for Gary Haveron.

Anderson believes a review of the way the IFA deal with disciplinary matters is required.

"Regarding the Portadown situation, everyone in the Irish League has waited too long for decisions to be made," said Anderson.

"This decision should have been made at the end of last season. We are three months into this season and clubs are in limbo in terms of the league table.

"We need to know where we stand, especially sides at the bottom. I feel sorry for the fans in the Irish League because they deserve better, and Coleraine, who lost a potentially lucrative home gate at the start of the season.

"I also feel for Pat McGibbon, the Portadown boss. I'm sure he would like it confirmed as soon as possible how many points his club really have.

"Ultimately the processes involved within IFA Discipline Committee need to be reviewed.

"Earlier this year my own club Ballinamallard were waiting for weeks on an IFA decision which had a big impact on our future.

"All of this only undermines the great work the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) are doing to promote the local game. It is damaging the Irish League and not doing anything for the credibility of our game."

Anderson added: "While we won't hide behind it, looking back to the wait Ballinamallard had for the IFA to make a decision, it did affect the start to our season.

"Effectively we didn't finish last season until June. It was extremely hard for players both mentally and physically. With the season going on for so long, it set them back for the current season. It wasn't helpful for the club committee either who were keen to put plans in place for the new season as soon as possible."

Belfast Telegraph


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