Supporters may well be aware by now that, following an unsuccessful appeal, that the club will not be permitted to compete in this year’s Intermediate Cup, and subsequently, Irish Cup competitions.
In response to the unsuccessful appeal that club have issued the following statement:
“It is with great disappointment that Lisburn Distillery notes the IFA Intermediate cup committee decision to refuse their entry into this seasons Intermediate and subsequently Irish Cup competitions, the latter of which we have won on no less than 12 occasions.
Normal practice as has been followed for the last number of seasons was that correspondence was issued to all clubs personally by a direct e-mail from the IFA to invite them to participate in both competitions in or around the 1st June giving all clubs 30 days notice in which to enter said tournaments.
On this occasion however, for reasons which are still unknown and not disclosed, a decision was made by the IFA to send the invite to the NI Football League (NIFL) instead requesting them in turn to issue the invitation to their member clubs. Regrettably on this occasion, due to their staff being on furlough and other pressing matters brought about by the current pandemic, this request was overlooked to be sent to the clubs by NIFL and subsequently no invitation or reminder was issued to Lisburn Distillery until the evening of Sunday 28th June which was only 48 hours in advance of the deadline. The club have since received a written apology from NIFL for the oversight.
This belated communication unfortunately, due to a combination of technical and personal reasons, was not received by the club until after the competition entry deadline at which point the club immediately attempted to contact the IFA to request entry only to be told that they had missed the deadline.
Following the clubs contact with the IFA to seek admission the matter was then discussed on July 7th by the Intermediate Cup committee who once again declined our request to enter said competition and this in turn prevented the Irish Cup committee from considering the late entry due to rules which stipulates that Irish Cup entry can not be made if not participating in the Intermediate cup. The club would like to go on record to thank those individuals from the Irish Cup committee who have contacted the club to express disappointment at the Intermediate cup committee decision.
Following the Intermediate Cup committee ruling the club submitted a written appeal on July 9th against the decision, this appeal being submitted within four days of it being made as per the appeal rules.
The rules relating to appeals also state that “All appeals should be heard, where possible, within 14 days of receipt of the appeal” but on this occasion it took some 74 days for a response from the Intermediate cup committee to be received. The only communication the club received during that period was an apology from the IFA on July 25th for the delay in the appeal being heard “due to the ongoing pandemic”.
From a clubs perspective we fully appreciate that the ongoing pandemic situation is playing havoc with normal procedures both on and off the pitch so this should not be seen as a criticism of the appeals committee but in turn the fact that they were unable to make their normal deadline gave us some hope that our appeal for the delayed cup entry might also been considered favourably in the light of the pandemic and its implications, sadly these hopes were not realised.
In their eventual reply the Intermediate Cup committee have argued that the club should have been aware that entries, as in previous years, were due to be made during the month of June and that we as a club should have acted on this precedent regardless of an invitation not being received however with the country during the month of June still in the grip of the COVID Pandemic and the fact that the previous seasons tournaments had still not completed we would argue that this year, of all years, that communication directly with the clubs, as opposed to through a third party, was more important than ever, this sadly was not the case.
The committee also confirmed in their response the fact that some 90% of the remaining clubs in our division had only entered the Intermediate Cup within the last 48 hours of entries being open but rather than seeing this as a confirmation that entries had not been forthcoming due to the lack of an earlier communication this has been used to apportion blame on the club for failing to pick up on a 48 hour notice period when other clubs were able to do so. We are unsure as to how a comparison of clubs and individual circumstances in this regard can be made.
Whereas we as a club have admitted that a deadline was narrowly missed it had been our hope, especially in what has been a truly horrible year for all local clubs, that we might be shown a small amount of leniency and an opening to potentially grasp another income stream through a run in ether of these competitions.
Permitting ourselves to enter the competition would not have impacted in any way negatively on any other club and it is therefore with great disappointment that, rather than being shown some support, that the IFA through the Intermediate cup committee have chosen to instead to stick rigidly to the rules as opposed to showing some flexibility and support for a member club in this pandemic riddled time.
To say we are exceptionally disheartened and disappointed by this decision is an understatement and we had hoped that, given the current crisis that football is facing, that the powers that be may have chosen to support our appeal on a one off exceptional circumstances basis. This sadly has not been the case.
The club have requested that the IFA implement checks in future years to ensure this situation of lack of notice being issued to the clubs does not happen again and we look forward to returning to both competitions next season.” STATEMENT ENDS ”