Belfast Telegraph

Pat McGibbon tries to focus on football with Portadown in undisclosed payment storm

By Graham Luney

Pat McGibbon has admitted it has been difficult to remain focused on Portadown's Danske Bank Premiership campaign while the undisclosed payments saga rumbles on.

The Ports have vowed to fight punishments handed out by the Irish FA regarding undisclosed payments to players.

After a Northern Ireland Football League probe, the IFA's Disciplinary Committee this week found the Ports guilty of two offences relating to midfielder Tim Mouncey and Gary Twigg.

Mouncey was found to be on the club payroll while registered as an amateur in contravention of League rules.

Twigg's contract showed him being paid 38 weeks of the year while the club payroll revealed 52 weeks of payment.

Portadown put forward a case that the player worked for them in an ambassadorial role for the 14 close-season weeks in question, but no documentary evidence of this was produced.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed details of the investigation yesterday, with another case involving Darren Murray unproven while Peter McMahon's situation was referred to the IFA's player registrations sub-committee for further investigation.

The IFA's disciplinary committee decided the Mouncey and Twigg cases breached football rules and found Portadown guilty of bringing the game into dispute on the two counts.

They imposed a fine of £10,000 - £5,000 to be paid within 14 days and the remainder suspended until June 1, 2017. The Ports were also banned from signing players on professional contracts until June 1, 2017 but escaped a points deduction or relegation. NIFL, however, could look at the issue of player eligibility should the Ports lose their appeal so the threat of relegation has not disappeared yet.

Only five points separate the bottom four teams in the Premiership and the mid-Ulster men need to raise their game after failing to win any of their last eight league matches.

McGibbon, who took charge on a caretaker basis after legendary boss Ronnie McFall stepped down in March, said: "We are trying to focus on the football as best we can, that's all we can do.

"We have matches against Dungannon Swifts on Saturday and Carrick Rangers on Tuesday so the games are coming thick and fast and we have to be ready for them.

"It's very important that we get enough points to ease relegation fears.

"It is a difficult situation, but something you must get on with. I'm a football person and I'm only interested in how the players are performing on the pitch.

"The club can deal with the other matters while my total focus is on the football side of things."

The Northern Ireland Football League have said no rules were broken when the dimensions of the Shamrock Park pitch were changed for Saturday's scoreless draw against Ballinamallard United.

The Mallards raised the matter with NIFL after Ports caretaker boss Pat McGibbon said he made the pitch a little smaller to reduce physical demands on the players.

Belfast Telegraph


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