Portadown have been plunged into a nightmare scenario seven weeks ahead of the new Danske Bank Premier season.
The Irish FA's Disciplinary Committee last night found the Shamrock Park side guilty of paying Peter McMahon while registered as an amateur and the seriousness of the offence is reflected in a 12-point penalty, which will take effect from the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
That means the Ports will begin the season on minus 12 points and will spend at least the first four weeks at the foot of the Premiership table, handing new boss Pat McGibbon an extremely difficult task.
The IFA Disciplinary Committee have already hit the Ports with a ban on signing professional players until next June after finding them guilty of undisclosed payments to striker Gary Twigg and the latest punishment came on the same day that experienced defender Ross Redman left the club to sign for Glentoran.
A statement from the Disciplinary Committee read: “The Committee found that the club had made payments to a player, namely Peter McMahon, whilst he was registered as an amateur.
“Whilst Portadown produced a version of the player contract, which they argued supported their case, the Committee relied on the player’s contract as lodged with the IFA as the basis of its determination.
“The Committee determined that a 12 point deduction should be imposed for the 2016/17 season meaning Portadown FC will start the season with -12 points.”
Meanwhile Carrick Rangers, Warrenpoint Town and the Irish FA have until 5pm today to lodge written submissions over the Gary Haveron suspension case.
Although former Carrick manager Haveron mistakenly served a suspension in the wrong match and was then on the bench when he should have been banned, the IFA’s Disciplinary Committee used its discretion and didn’t impose a sanction.
The three parties will have until noon on Friday to respond to any of the other submissions before Sports Resolutions UK decides if an oral hearing is required.
The issue affects the relegation situation in the Danske Bank Premiership as Carrick would drop to the bottom if a three-point deduction is imposed and Warrenpoint would survive.