North West title play-off may not go ahead

Gareth McKeegan is one of three Brigade players unavailable
Gareth McKeegan is one of three Brigade players unavailable

A dramatic end to the North West Premiership season is in danger of turning into a farce.

The News Letter understands that the title play-off between Brigade and Coleraine, scheduled for this Sunday, may not go ahead because of a bitter dispute between Brigade and the North West ruling body.

It is believed that the Beechgrove club will not field a team if the North West presses ahead with its plans for a Sunday play-off.

Brigade, led by chairman Graeme Moore, insist that North West officials were told a number of weeks ago that the club wouldn’t be available to take part in a play-off this Sunday (September 13).

Gareth McKeegan, Ryan Hunter and Ian McGregor leave for foreign holidays on Sunday but all three are available to play on Saturday.

Brigade chairman Graeme Moore said the club are in possession of several text messages from officials dated last month which suggested the North West knew of Brigade’s unavailability problems for this Sunday.

He also claimed that Brigade captain Andy Britton, along with McKeegan, told a North West official verbally last month that Brigade were unavailable to play on that date.

“We have a reasonable and well justified argument,” said Moore.

It is believed North West officials dispute this version of events however.

In an email sent to the media on Saturday, North West secretary David Bradley said that the “rulebook is pretty clear in what can constitute a request for free dates etc and holidays isn’t one of them”.

If Brigade don’t take part on Sunday, the league trophy will almost certainly be awarded to Coleraine.