Warrenpoint boss Barry Gray voices relief at Darren Forsyth eligibility decision

Barry Gray
Barry Gray

Barry Gray voiced his “delight and relief” after it was confirmed that Warrenpoint Town will remain in this season’s Irish Cup.

The Milltown club faced being expelled from the blue riband competition over the eligibility dispute surrounding striker Darren Forsyth.

But on Thursday the Irish FA confirmed that Forsyth was eligible to play in last month’s cup win over Coleraine.

“I am delighted, and relieved,” Warrenpoint boss Gray said last night.

“It is nice to put the issue to bed and now we can concentrate on the cup and the rest of the Premiership campaign.

“We were as confident as we could be in getting a positive outcome. There was a lot at stake, and thankfully we are still in the cup.”

The IFA launched an investigation this week into whether Forsyth’s transfer from Glenavon broke FIFA’s rule of playing for more than two clubs in one season.

The striker also played for Leinster League outfit Greystones last August.

However, it was ruled that the Leinster League, which falls under the banner of the FAI, has an overlapping season to that of the Danske Bank Premiership, meaning Forsyth and Warrenpoint had broken no rules.

Warrenpoint will now face Linfield at Windsor Park on Saturday as originally scheduled (3pm kick-off).

The game had been postponed to February 16 to allow the IFA to conduct its investigation into the eligibility case.

Warrenpoint are now hoping for a positive verdict from the NI Football League over Forsyth’s eligibility.

The club had been facing up to a £600 fine and five-point deduction – points accumulated in league games Forsyth played in against Ballinamallard United, Cliftonville and Glenavon.

However, it is expected that NIFL will follow the IFA’s conclusion on the eligibility issue and impose no penalties.

“It is a massive boost for us,” Gray added.

“We are still in the Irish Cup and hopefully we will avoid any penalties in the Premiership.

“It would have been a big setback for us if we had lost out in this. We are scrapping for our lives in the Premiership, and those five points are massive for us.”

In a statement released on Thursday, the IFA said: “Having carried out a thorough investigation and after considering all relevant rules, which include the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, the IFA Professional Game Player Registration Regulations and the Challenge Cup Competition rules, the committee has determined that Darren Forsyth was eligible to play for Warrenpoint Town and was therefore also eligible to participate in the match against Coleraine FC in the 5th Round of the competition.”

Coleraine would have been reinstated in the cup if Warrenpoint had been expelled.

Bannsiders manager Oran Kearney admitted his disappointment at the ruling.

“I am disappointed at the inconsistency when it comes to disciplinary procedures,” he said.

“We had a similar case recently with our midfielder Ruairi Harkin but were slapped with a fine and points deduction.

“The IFA admitted to administrative errors with us but we still ended up on the receiving end.

“It is embarrassing for local football and hugely frustrating.”