Shock as Bangor decide to opt out of Premiership promotion bid
The Park can exclusively reveal that Bangor are one of ten Belfast Telegraph Championship One clubs who have not applied for the requisite licence, which allows clubs to gain promotion to the Premiership.
Despite the slightly confusing title, a Championship Licence allows second tier sides to gain promotion to the top flight, before upgrading to a full domestic licence in their second season at Premiership level.
Only Carrick Rangers, Institute, Larne and Lisburn Distillery have applied for the licence, meaning they are the only four sides who can gain promotion.
As expected, league leaders Dundela and their local rivals Harland & Wolff Welders have not applied for a licence, preferring to continue to play at intermediate level. Former senior clubs Ballyclare Comrades and Donegal Celtic have also opted not to apply for a licence, with a title charge looking unlikely.
The main surprise are Bangor, who have decided not to go for promotion. Their Clandeboye Park ground is capable of hosting top flight football, while the team are currently sitting in fourth place, eight points behind league leaders Dundela.
Institute are now the most likely side to gain promotion. They're currently in second spot, four points behind Dundela, while their Riverside ground is one of the best in the country.
Lisburn Distillery currently sit in seventh, nine points off the pace. While a promotion challenge might seem unlikely for the Whites, it's certainly not impossible. Larne apply for a licence every year, regardless of where they are in the table. The Invermen are currently well off the promotion pace in 11th.
While Carrick Rangers had a disappointing start to the season, they're now in fifth place and just eight points behind the leaders.
With Taylor's Avenue currently closed for repair work after the club's changing rooms were damaged by a storm, some fans may have feared that their ground would not meet top flight criteria, but chairman David Hilditch has given assurances that the club will do all they can to make the grade.
“Taylor's Avenue is closed at the moment, which is not just a blow for Carrick Rangers but also for the whole of Carrickfergus.
“I think people sometimes forget that Taylor's Avenue also hosts community events like Twilight Football and the Michael Hughes Football Academy. The council are doing a lot of work behind the scenes to improve the facilities at Taylor's Avenue, so we can all get back there.
“In the long term, the club is pressing ahead with its application for a Championship Licence. At this stage I season no reason why we can't get it, but we will review the situation as the season goes on.”
All 12 Premiership clubs have applied for a Domestic Licence, while only Ards, Dungannon Swifts and Warrenpoint Town have not applied for a Uefa Licence, which would rule them out of qualifying for European competition should they win the Irish Cup.
How does promotion work?
The four applicants will have until March 31, 2014, to complete their applications for a Championship Licence. They will then find out on April 25 if they have met the criteria.
However, to gain automatic promotion you must win the division, while a second place finish guarantees you a play-off.
Here's how it works:
If the top two sides in Championship One at the end of the season have a licence, the champions will gain automatic promotion, while the team in second will play in a promotion play-off against the club who finished 11th in the Premiership.
If the champions have a licence and the runners-up do not, then the top team will be promoted and there will be no play-off.
If the champions do not have a licence, but the runners-up do, then the winners will not be promoted, while the second placed club faces the side who finished bottom of the Premiership in a play-off.
If neither the winners nor the runners-up have a licence, there will be no promotion.
Belfast Telegraph Digital