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Premiership schedule thrown back into chaos

By Stuart McKinley

A fresh fixture crisis has hit the Carling Premiership — just when all outstanding fixtures were about to be cleared up.

With both last night’s scheduled league games washed out due to heavy rain, as well as the Irish Cup sixth-round replay between Newry City and Loughgall being postponed, those responsible now face a difficult task to arrange all the remaining games in the four weeks left of the season.

It is that Irish Cup fixture which will cause the biggest headache as Coleraine were due to play the winners this weekend in a quarter-final meeting, with the semi-final scheduled a week later.

Newry and Loughgall are now expected to play on Friday night with the match against Coleraine likely to take place on Easter Tuesday, but if that goes to a replay then staging the semi-final with Linfield on April 10 will be impossible and that game will have to be put back.

That would have a major knock-on effect as Linfield also have a league game against Cliftonville to rearrange.

Coleraine and Portadown had been due to meet last night and with the outcome of that match deciding which of the teams makes the top six and who drops into the bottom half of the table, it has an impact on the rest of the proceedings. That is likely to be played this coming Saturday.

“The Coleraine v Portadown game is a priority, it must be the next game played because it impacts on the tops six and bottom six in the split,” said Premier League chairman Jack Grundie.

“Had the games gone ahead as planned last night we would have caught up in terms of fixtures after losing so many matches around Christmas and New Year. Clubs have co-operated to get all the games played, but now we’ve been hit with a new problem.”

Glentoran v Dungannon Swifts will go-ahead as planned this Saturday, but that will be the only game in the top half as Linfield are in Setanta Sports Cup action against Bohemians.

Lisburn Distillery’s game with Institute can also go-ahead, but with Newry in Irish Cup action and Glenavon waiting to see if they will play Portadown or Coleraine, that will be the only other scheduled match.

Belfast Telegraph

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