Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville launch blistering attack IFA over Donnelly appeal

 

By Graham Luney

Cliftonville have launched a blistering attack on the Irish Football Association despite the football body's Appeals Board deciding to reduce the sanction imposed on striker Rory Donnelly following a social media post.

Donnelly was given a three-month suspension by the Irish FA's Disciplinary Committee starting on July 30 with half of the sanction suspended until the end of the 2018-19 season.

The striker's punishment followed a message Donnelly posted on WhatsApp about Cliftonville's team selection before their final match of the Danske Bank Premiership season against Linfield on April 28.

Cliftonville contested the decision and last night the Appeals Board concluded "that the mitigating actions of Cliftonville FC on the day in question were such that the original sanction should be reduced. Therefore the sanction has been reduced to a six-week suspension."

The north-Belfast club, however, blasted this decision as "a farcical cop out" and "meaningless gesture" as the player will still have to serve the term of suspension issued.

In a strongly worded statement, Cliftonville even claimed "there are people within the IFA who would rather that our Club went away".

Donnelly's charge relates to a breach of regulations regarding "behaviour that damages or could damage the integrity of matches and competitions".

After learning that the six-week suspension from July 30 remains in place, Cliftonville stated: "Following a three-hour appeal hearing this evening, the Irish Football Association Appeal Committee agreed with Cliftonville Football Club's submission that the punishment recently imposed by the IFA Disciplinary Committee on Rory Donnelly was excessive.

"However, in what can only be described as a farcical cop out, the Appeals Committee have only seen fit to remove the suspended part of the suspension originally issued to the player.

“In effect, this is nothing more than a meaningless gesture with the player still having to serve the term of suspension issued, despite the case having been found in the player’s favour.

“The IFA, fond of issuing statements on selective cases only, will no doubt attempt to put a spin on this outcome, but Cliftonville Football Club will no longer be a party to such statements. Yet again, like the antics of individuals within the IFA over the anthem at the Irish Cup Final, it is obvious to our Club that there are people within the IFA who would rather that our Club went away. We can assure our supporters, that this will never be the case.”

The Appeals Board stated: “The board concluded that the mitigating actions of Cliftonville FC on the day in question were such that the original sanction should be reduced. Therefore the sanction has been reduced to a six-week suspension.”

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