Portadown officials will meet within the next 24 hours to formally discuss the circumstances surrounding Robert Garrett’s suspension issue.
Ards released a statement last night (Monday) confirming the club’s decision to lodge a protest with the Irish Football Association over the eligibility of the player on Saturday in the Danske Bank Premiership match.
Portadown recorded a 3-1 win but questions have been raised over the player’s availability.
The Northern Ireland Football League made contact with the Irish Football Association on Monday requesting the disciplinary committee look into the situation “as a matter of urgency”.
The weekly suspension list posted on the IFA website during Friday, October 21 stated that Garrett must serve a one-match suspension as of Monday, October 24 due to a fifth caution picked up against Crusaders on Wednesday, October 12.
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.
Clarification of Garrett’s availability from Portadown officials along the process centred around a 14-day timeframe that would place the ban effective from yesterday (October 31) rather than the previous week.
It is understood this belief was based on a printed rulebook, now defunct. Sources within NIFL and the IFA maintain all clubs were informed in the close season of changes to the rules.
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”.
The Ards statement reads as follows: “The club today lodged a protest with the Irish Football Association in relation to Saturday’s Danske Bank Premiership match against Portadown.
“The club believes Portadown FC to be in breach of Article 22 of the IFA Disciplinary Code, which deals with the fielding of a suspended player.
“In this instance we believe that a player, Robert Garrett, took part in the match while being under suspension from the IFA”.
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.