Sport

IFA uphold Portadown suspension decision

 It's been a difficult pre-season for Portadown boss, Pat McGibbon
Gareth McCullough

The IFA’s Disciplinary Committee upheld their decision to suspend Portadown late last night meaning they automatically forfeit this weekend’s league opener at Coleraine.

The Shamrock Park club were suspended from all footballing activity after failing to pay a £5000 fine on time, imposed after irregularities were found in payments made to former striker Gary Twigg. The Ports were also hit with a transfer embargo preventing them from signing players on professional contracts until June of next year.

After an initial cheque to the IFA is believed to have ’bounced’, the club paid their fine yesterday and were confident that, at an emergency meeting of the IFA Disciplinary Committee last night that ‘discretion’ would be used and they would be cleared to play.

However, under IFA rules, the suspension cannot be lifted until the Monday after the outstanding fine is paid in full, meaning Portadown would have to forfeit Saturday’s trip to Oran Kearney’s Bannsiders

McGibbon, who was speaking at the launch of the Danske Bank Premiership in Belfast last night – before the news broke of the Disciplinary Committee’s decision, just wants his team to be able to play football.

“We’re just trying to prepare for Saturday as we have done over the course of the week,” he said.

McGibbon’s side will also begin the season with a 12-point deduction after they were found to have paid Peter McMahon while he was registered as an amateur. Their appeal is due to be heard by the IFA's Appeals Committee tonight, but as their suspension from all footballing activity has been upheld, that appeal may to be heard.

McGibbon was already faced a tough task with the loss of a number of high-profile players in Twigg, Chris Casement, Chris Ramsey and Michael Gault.

“Before pre-season started, I had a lot of work to do to try and get players in and trying to persuade them that Portadown was the place to come to,” he said.

“Management and players have all worked hard and I think the supporters were happy with what’s gone in the pre-season games. We just want to get on with the season.

“The 12-point deduction is obviously very disappointing but we have to see it out and we have to hit the ground running.”

McGibbon has brought in Stephen Hughes from relegated Warrenpoint and former Glentoran midfielder Niall Henderson and has managed to keep the experienced quintet of David Miskelly, Ken Oman, Garry Breen, Robert Garrett and Mark McAllister.

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