The four Crusaders players sent-off during Boxing Day’s stormy clash with Cliftonville have been banned from next week’s Paddy Power County Antrim Shield final.
And manager Stephen Baxter will also have to watch that game from the stand, as a consequence of his sending-off in the same game.
Chris Morrow, David Rainey, Aaron Black and Ryan McCann were all red carded as Cliftonville won 2-1 in an ill-tempered north-Belfast derby, along with Reds’ midfielder Ryan Catney — who was involved in an altercation with Black.
And the timing of the follow-on suspensions means the Seaview quartet are forced to sit out the final against Linfield at the Oval next Wednesday.
Morrow, Black and McCann have been suspended for two matches after being deemed guilty of violent conduct
Rainey’s offensive language charge carries a one game sanction, but he has had two further matches added to that and has also been hit with a fine.
Baxter will serve a three match touchline ban and like the players his suspension kicked in yesterday, meaning they will all miss Saturday’s Irish Cup fifth round game at home to Bangor as well.
Boss Baxter’s ban may not be finished there though.
On his way off the pitch after being sent from the dugout by referee Adrian McCourt Baxter made his way towards the official and made further comments.
He then heavily criticised McCourt’s performance in post-match interviews, saying that he had “never seen a more one-sided performance from a referee.”
Catney will also miss two matches having been sent-off for violent conduct. He will sit out Saturday’s Irish Cup tie against Lisburn Distillery and the Carling Premiership visit to Glenavon a week later.
A County Antrim FA official last night revealed why the rearranged Shield final will be played on a Wednesday night.
There have been many complaints when local games run up against cross channel matches on television, but there won’t be any such criticism on the shoulders of the County Antrim FA.
Next Tuesday the BBC will show the Carling Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Manchester United and for that reason the Shield final between Crusaders and Linfield has been delayed.
“We wanted to get the final played as quickly as possible and it was agreed that next Wednesday is the best date,” said County Antrim official Ivan Foster.
“We came to the decision to play on the Wednesday because of the live match on television the night before.
“We thought it was wise to wait another 24 hours.”
Both Linfield and the Crues will have Irish Cup replays delayed by a week if they are required in their respective ties against Donegal Celtic and Bangor.
The Shield final was originally postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at the Oval on December 1 and was again shelved last Tuesday because of snow.
Had the game been played last Tuesday the four Crusaders players and manager Baxter would have been available.