Defiant Glentoran came out fighting last night after the Irish FA questioned their new management structure.
The governing body's club licensing committee stated: "Any suggestion that a licensee may be engaged in the practice of 'shadow management' will be fully investigated and where established will result in the withdrawal of any licence awarded for the incoming 2018-19 season."
Glentoran announced their new managerial set-up with Ronnie McFall remaining as manager, Gary Smyth and Kieran Harding named his assistants and Paul Leeman given a coaching role.
The Irish FA, however, issued a statement yesterday warning the club that neither Smyth nor Leeman can succeed McFall until they obtain the necessary coaching licences.
Smyth and Leeman will begin an A licence course next month but are not eligible to commence a Uefa pro licence until May, 2021. The Glens are angry that the Irish FA referred to "press reporting and media/social media commentary over the past 24 hours" when making its point that "there is no provision within Uefa or Premiership licensing regulations that allows an unqualified manager to be engaged in that role with coaching badge 'cover' provided by someone else within the club."
Glentoran argued: “We are extremely disappointed that the IFA has reacted so inappropriately to nothing other than uninformed media speculation in the days leading up to the announcement of our new management team and to attention seeking social media activity immediately following the announcement.
“The club totally refutes any insinuation contained within this statement or anywhere else. Social media speculation — identified in the IFA statement as the reason behind the statement — should not drive the actions of our governing body.
“This club has appointed Ronnie McFall as manager and Ronnie will fulfil all the functions as a manager as he has being doing throughout his management career of 39 years. Any suggestion to the contrary is an insult to both Ronnie — the most experienced manager in Irish football with 29 trophy wins in his career — and to this football club.
“Ronnie holds the Uefa pro license and has been managing our first team since 22nd February this year, most recently 13 days ago in the Europa League playoff final. Ronnie is continuing in that role as has been made clear in all communication from this club. Kieran Harding also possesses the pro license, Paul Leeman is enrolled on the A license and Gary Smyth will commence the course next month as the IFA has acknowledged in its statement.
“Glentoran has put in place a team and a strategy for the short term improvement and long term success of the club with these appointments. This has been done with complete integrity by everyone involved.”
The Irish FA added they will monitor managerial set-ups.
Glentoran’s new management team have gone to work immediately by culling the playing squad dramatically, with seven players confirmed to be leaving the club and four more made available for transfer.
Jonathan Addis and James Knowles have been confirmed as departing, with Jonathan Smith and Kym Nelson also leaving at the conclusion of their contracts.
The trio of Alex O’Hanlon, Aaron Harmon and Tre Sterling have also come to the end of their deals with the east Belfast club and have been informed they will not be offered new ones, making them free agents.
On top of that, Eoghan McCawl, Tiarnan McNicholl, Corey McMullan and Conall Delaney have all been made available for transfer.