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'Have we wasted eight months of our lives?': Portadown boss Matthew Tipton says points must mean prizes

 

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Portadown manager Matthew Tipton

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton

Philip Magowan

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton has accepted the season looks over but feels an abandoned campaign with no promotion would leave everyone at the club wondering why they have wasted eight months of their lives.

The Ports were chasing promotion to the Danske Bank Premiership and edging closer to that promised land when the coronavirus arrived on our shores and shut down football.

Uefa have given the Northern Ireland Football League a deadline of May 25 to submit their plan for a restart of the season, with a "tentative" target of the campaign being concluded by July 20. A nightmare scenario for the Ports is no promotion and relegation, leaving their Premiership mission in tatters.

As it stands, Tipton's men are six points clear of second-placed Ballinamallard United and eight ahead of Loughgall. Portadown and Loughgall had seven games remaining and the Mallards had eight.

In an important twist this week, Loughgall lost four points for fielding an ineligible player, Marcio Soares, in September against Ards in a scoreless draw and 2-1 win over Knockbreda.

Both games have become 3-0 victories for their opponents. Ballinamallard United now have a better points per game score than Loughgall, perhaps opening the door to promoting two teams to the Premiership and creating a 14-team league.

A more likely scenario is perhaps one up, one down with Portadown being promoted and the Premiership's basement side Institute dropping into the Championship.

Former Oldham and Macclesfield striker Tipton is awaiting developments, while fearing his team's efforts this season will get them nowhere.

"I'd be disappointed if there was no reward because then what has been the point of it all?" asked the Welshman.

"Who will refund season tickets or pay wages back to the players as well as the fines for bookings and suspensions?

"Such an outcome would leave more questions than answers. Have we just wasted eight months of our lives?"

Tipton added: “No one wants a voided season, how could they? There must be another solution.

“We want sporting integrity but is that possible without playing the matches?

“One option is to say we’ve played 80% of the season, it’s as far as we can take it.”

The former Linfield, Portadown and Ballymena United frontman accepts his club’s fate will be determined in a boardroom, not on a pitch.

“We are in the same boat as everyone else. League chiefs have to report back to Uefa with their thoughts at the end of this month,” he added.

“I’d like to be positive but I cannot see how we can play the games.

“It’s not easy for the Irish FA or NIFL. Until some sense of normality returns in our lives, we cannot play football.

“Football can’t go on simply because people are missing it. There’s no such thing as social distancing in football and that’s where we are. Other leagues across Europe are shutting down and making decisions because football cannot be played.”

All national organisations have been urged to do all they can to “bring competitions to a natural end”.

Tipton added: “I’ve always believed the season should be finished but Uefa won’t allow that. We are governed by what they are saying. Now we have a time constraint and that puts pressure on NIFL.

“We can’t afford to lose the European money so we have to make a decision at some point.

“We all want a fair decision and I accept there’s no easy answer. I’m not worrying about it. All I can do is make sure the players and families are okay.”

• Defender Harry Flowers has left Larne as his loan deal with the Danske Bank Premiership club has expired.

The former Burnley centre-half moved to Inver Park from parent club Solihull Moors in August 2019.

He played 28 times and scored three goals for Larne.

Belfast Telegraph