The Irish Football Association disciplinary committee have confirmed a date to discuss the suspension row surrounding Portadown’s Robert Garrett.
A meeting will take place tonight (Wednesday) following both the Northern Ireland Football League and IFA declaring the issue a “matter of urgency”.
Garrett played - and scored - in Portadown’s weekend win over Ards by 3-1.
That Danske Bank Premiership result put the Ports on a zero tally for the season, having been issued a 12-point deduction at the start of the campaign by the IFA due to issues over player contracts.
However, the IFA suspension list posted on October 21 on the official website listed Garrett as set to serve a one-match ban for the weekend fixture.
Portadown confirmed at a meeting last night (Tuesday) plans to submit a ‘statement of explanation’ to the IFA before today’s 5 o’clock deadline.
It is understood the decision to play Garrett last weekend was based on the belief by club officials that a 14-day rule remained in place that would have left the player ineligible as of this week, in the aftermath of a fifth caution collected against Crusaders on October 12.
However, NIFL and the IFA insist all clubs were notified of rule changes in the summer that effectively left a player to serve any ban the week after a suspension list was posted online.
Ards lodged a protest on Monday night on the basis that Portadown’s decision to play Garrett last weekend was in breach of rule 22 of the IFA Disciplinary Code. Article 22 (ineligibility through suspension) confirms that, if found guilty, Portadown will be sanctioned with a minimum fine of £350 and a 3-0 win awarded to Ards.
Garrett’s suspension was discussed within the club by the player, officials and management on a number of occasions leading up to the Ards game.
Ards representatives mentioned the issue during a pre-match conversation with the Ports, leading to additional discussions ahead of kick-off.
Regulations posted on the IFA website state that “any period of suspension arising from the accumulation of cautions or additional suspensions in respect of a dismissal will commence on the Monday following the time at which the suspension has been imposed. For the purposes of clarification, a suspension is imposed when the Suspension List is published on the Irish Football Association website”.