Portadown have been given an extra six days to prepare their defence against allegations of breaching Irish FA salary rules — with payments to FOUR players now under investigation.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed last month that the Ports would be called before the IFA’s Disciplinary Committee after a Northern Ireland Football League investigation determined that there was a case to answer regarding payments to midfielder Tim Mouncey, but it now appears that there are more questions for the club to answer.
That hearing was originally scheduled to take place a fortnight ago only to be postponed a week in advance.
It was then rescheduled for last night but now, given the serious nature of the allegations surrounding three further players, it has been put back to next Monday.
The Ports asked for an adjournment on the grounds that their QC needed additional time to examine evidence regarding payments to the four players.
The committee granted that request, with an outcome expected at the third time of asking.
The Irish FA confirmed the delay in a brief statement, which read: “A representative from Portadown FC attended the hearing and made an application for an adjournment.”
The IFA statement continued: “Following deliberations, the committee agreed to a short adjournment until Monday 11 April.”
A league-wide investigation into all clubs, seeking evidence of undisclosed payments, originally only came up with documented proof in the case of Portadown and their registration of Mouncey.
Portadown themselves released a statement last month, in response to the Belfast Telegraph story, in which they denied making any payment to Mouncey and there is no suggestion that the player was aware of any breach of IFA rules.
The issue surrounding Mouncey is that he was registered as an amateur.
With four players now under investigation, if those payments are found to be in breach of the IFA’s Salary Cap protocol then the Ports could be facing relegation from the Danske Bank Premiership, which is the sanction laid down for breaking such rules.
That would see the Shamrock Park outfit thrown out of the top flight for the second time in eight years for off-pitch reasons.
In 2008 they missed a deadline for paperwork to be lodged ahead of the formation of a new IFA invitational league.
The governing body was left with little option but to reject the late application and that meant a season playing at intermediate level before returning to the Premiership in 2009.
Currently the Ports are ninth in the Premiership, just four points clear of a relegation play-off.