Wednesday, September 20, 2006


First there was the refereeing performance at Monday night's League Cup final; and I'm not exonerating the other three members of the team. Apparently lunging at a player, a la Sean Hargan, and making sufficient contact to geld said victim is not even a yellow card offence. However, lunging at a player, missing him completely and allowing oneself to be struck in the nether regions in retaliation is a red card offence.

I couldn't find a reference to either event in the rule book, maybe you will. Then there' s off the field!

Coleraine FC lived the high life and lost. Their decision, their risk. We are all of us accountable for our actions in civilised society, but the world of football does not want to be governed by the rules of civilised folk.

In 2003 the Bannsiders finished 3rd in the Premier League and won the Irish Cup final, this was to be the pinnacle of their recent history. Then the taxman reminded the club that they owed 1.3 m sterling [Say it like Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, it sinks in]. The party was over and the club were in deep poo.

Supporters rallied 'round as they always do in times of crisis. We are stuck with the club we support, while players and directors may go and come, supporters are the only constant within a club. Thus, Friends of Coleraine emerged, and it's not the name of a fashion boutique.

There was many a splash to be heard around the Showgrounds as the budget cuts bit deeply. The 'Friends' convinced the taxman to back off for a bit. The old Coleraine were replaced by a new one- all perfectly legal- and their cares were gone.

But was it fair? Omagh Town had imploded in similar circumstances not long before. They had suggested a similar course of rescue action to the IFA who had knocked them back. There was disgruntlement in the air, if there's such a word, and if there's not, it's mine.

The Premier League clubs were less than happy with the situation. Coleraine had lived the dream while others remained prudent in their financial management; this could mean open season for maniacal chairmen; the events could not be allowed to go unchallenged.

And they weren't. Apres much puffing and huffing, many meetings and findings, it was recommended by the Premier League Committee that Coleraine FC be allowed to remain in the top flight, but must incur a 12 point penalty in accordance with rule 63 for 'having brought the game into disrepute and contrary to the best interests of the Premier League'. Lenient if you ask me; and if I was a Coleraine official I'd take it and be glad. They could justifiably have been demoted to any lower league and left to play their way up like any new club.

Then it was decided by the IFA's Executive Committee in their lack of wisdom that they were not going to accept this recommendation; it was after all a decision made by a committee with a 'perceived conflict of interest'.

In other words, 'thanks lads for all your help, now pish off and play while the big boys sort this out'. And in a Solomonesque judgement the Big Boys committee ruled that Friends of Coleraine had been remiss in their dealings with the IFA; they hadn't been completely upfront about what was going on in their efforts to save and relaunch the club.

So they didn't pay the taxman his [Dr. Evil] 1.3 million, but were fined 5,000 sterling instead for their naughtiness, as the committee showed all the wrath of Supernanny. And to add a further twist to this tale, Coleraine manager Marty Quinn had a hissy fit on hearing of the judgement against his club.

For those of you unfamiliar with the meaning of GUBU, see here

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