Warrenpoint lose appeal over licence rejection-News

Barry Gray’s Warrenpoint Town team had to play in the Irish Premiership/relegation play off against Dungannon Swifts after finishing second in the Championship.

Warrenpoint Town have lost their appeal against the Irish FA’s refusal to accept their license application for next season.

The trial was adjourned last week and ended on Wednesday, with the verdict announced on Friday.

Warrenpoint was they said their request was rejected because of the tax billwhich has now been paid.

The appeal was rejected by the IFA’s Licensing Committee, which said “the decision will stand”.

Warrenpoint Town finished the season in second place in the Championship.

A second-place finish meant they had to take part in the Irish Premiership/relegation play-off against Dungannon Swifts, who finished second from bottom in the top flight.

However, this playoff was stopped by Annagh United, who finished third in the Championship, who would take Town’s place.

In the club licensing section of the Irish FA website, it says “in 2019, the NIFL [Northern Ireland Football League] decided to extend the franchise to all clubs participating in the third tier, the Premier Intermediate League (PIL). This was first implemented in the 2020-21 season to issue permits for the 2021-22 season”.

The rules would state that if Warrenpoint does not have a license then it cannot participate in the Championship or PIL, meaning it must leave the NIFL system.

‘Warrenpoint did not meet requirements’

In a club statement earlier this month, Warrenpoint said the IFA’s decision to reject their license application “implied an obligation to HMRC that the club was not aware of”.

It added that this was “completely resolved within a few days”.

BBC Sport NI understands that the Irish FA has maintained that its licensing rules make it clear that the deadline for clubs to submit financial documents is 31 March.

Warrenpoint’s statement earlier this month said it paid the outstanding tax on April 14.

In a statement released by the Irish FA following the decision, it was said that in the case Warrenpoint argued that there should be a leniency in the March 31 deadline as the club only realized it had “significant debts” after that date.

The appeal committee added that the Licensing Committee “was of the opinion that this is not a penalty but a reason for failing to meet the requirements”.

It added: “This is necessary for the applicant to prove that, by March 31, 2023, they had no late payments to the tax authorities (HMRC).

“These laws are clear and should be understood clearly so that they cannot be interpreted in order to avoid another interpretation of the laws that are being made to be clear to all those involved in issuing licenses.

“The Licensing Appeal Committee would like to say that they have considered all of Warrenpoint Town Soccer Club’s concerns.

“The Licensing Appeal Committee understood how they got to where they were. At no time did the Licensing Committee seek to discipline Warrenpoint Town Soccer Club, but the decision was made for non-compliance.

“The only issue was that Warrenpoint Town Football Club did not meet the criteria so no other decision could have been made.”

Warrenpoint Town and the Northern Ireland Football League have been contacted for comment.

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