Coleraine and Portadown could still kick off the Danske Bank Premiership season on Saturday - with Northern Ireland Football League officials to meet tonight to discuss the green light.
A ruling by the Irish Football Association Disciplinary Committee last night (Wednesday) voted to uphold the “suspension of football activities” imposed on the Ports for “non-payment of disciplinary fines”.
However, Portadown today (Thursday) lodged an appeal against that verdict, automatically putting on hold any suspension until a future IFA hearing.
It is extremely unlikely that the IFA Appeals Board will convene before the weekend - resulting in the opportunity for the NIFL Premiership Management Committee to meet tonight at 5 o’clock and opt to play the fixture on opening day.
Coleraine had planned a family day for The Showgrounds on Saturday in a bid to recoup some of the loss of earnings connected to a Portadown postponement.
A decision will also be made on the scheduled Premiership Development League match at Shamrock Park on Saturday between the clubs’ reserves.
The IFA statement from Wednesday’s hearing confirmed that “taking into account Article 9.3 of the Irish FA’s Disciplinary Code as well as being cognisant of Portadown’s Premiership game against Coleraine scheduled for this Saturday, they were not persuaded to exercise discretion in this case”.
Portadown presented evidence at the IFA hearing of a written agreement to stagger payment of fines to one £3,000 sum “before the start of the season” then subsequent £1,000 lodgements in September and October.
An emergency meeting of Portadown’s Board of Directors was scheduled to take place today to discuss the hearing decision and “future of Portadown Football Club”, according to the Shamrock Park side’s official website.