Institute manager Kevin Deery says the club has been left in limbo after tonight’s promotion/relegation play-off second leg against Ballinamallard was postponed as the IFA attempt to resolve Warrenpoint’s appeal against relegation.
Derry had been preparing his team to travel to Ferney Park hopeful of over-turning a 2-1 deficit but now, with SIXTEEN players due to leave on a pre-planned holiday next week, those plans have been left in tatters.
The Co. Down club made their appeal after Carrick manager Gary Heavron appeared in the dug-out for Rangers’ 3-1 win over Dungannon on April 23, mistakenly believing he had already served a three game suspension.
Possible IFA sanctions for the failure to serve a suspension include a match forfeit as well as a fine. If applied, that would mean Carrick should have finished bottom and Ballinamallard third from bottom, taking them out of the play-off position, despite having already played in Friday’s first leg at the Riverside.
It is a sorry state of affairs and one which Deery believes is punishing his club and his players unnecessarily.
“I don’t know where this leaves us,” said the Institute boss. “I’m just off the phone to the chairman. Our players have booked an end of season holiday which is happening next Thursday so we have nine days now to find out our fate. If, for example, this ends with us against Warrenpoint in a two-legged tie, when are they going to fit it in?
“I’m sure Carrick won’t stand to be relegated which means more appeals. This whole situation is absolutely crazy and we have been dragged into it through no fault of our own.
“These clubs are part-time, amateur outfits and people are coming in from their full time jobs to deal with these things. They should have just played our game and it may have made the situation clearer because, if it comes to being resolved in a court, then you could be looking at months before we get a resolution.”
Deery’s team had more than held their own in Friday’s first leg, with only John Currie’s deflected second half strike separating the sides, and he was confident his team could spring a surprise.
“I’m a firm believer in deciding things on the pitch which is why I’m so disappointed there won’t be a game tomorrow night. We could finish things out and, if we go up, we would deserve to go up.
This whole situation is absolutely crazy and we have been dragged into it through no fault of our own.Institute boss Kevin Deery
“I feel very sorry for the players because we have all put a lot of work in and the tie still felt alive but now we don’t know where we are.
“I have spoken to a couple of the players and they are gutted, to be honest, even though it may be to our advantage if it works out we get Warrenpoint and start again on another play-off.
“The belief in our camp is quite strong but this leaves us not knowing where we are. That’s an awful feeling after working hard all year. We are going to have a team meeting and, hopefully, the Chairman can shed some more light on the situation. It’s worth reiterating that we are being punished for something which was nothing to do with us. We earned the right to have a play-off and it has been taken off us.”
And, despite the predicament the Drumahoe club finds itself in, Deery says he has some sympathy for Carrick.
“I think it’s harsh on Carrick and maybe a fine would have been punishment enough. It appears to have been a misunderstanding over which games should have been served in the suspension. I still think it would be better to play the second leg and make a decision then.
And it is not just on the pitch the postponement is causing problems. The Riverside club have already organised buses to travel to the second leg while players have arranged time off work for the game. The fact most of Deery’s squad are on amateur contracts until the end of the season adds further pressure to a situation that could run for weeks.
“Our players are registered as amateur players until the end of the season and we are not sure how that leaves us if this runs on for a few weeks. Everything is now up in the air.”
The full statement released by the IFA regarding the situation states:
“The NIFL Premiership Fixtures Sub Committee met today (Monday) to consider information received regarding eligibility matters and agreed, as a precaution, to postpone tomorrow’s Ballinamallard United v Institute play-off second leg until guidance requested from the IFA has been received.”