Supporters turn to the league stats for answers

Portadown caretaker manager Pat McGibbon and coach Vinny Arkins during Saturday's defeat by Warrenpoint Town. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Portadown caretaker manager Pat McGibbon and coach Vinny Arkins during Saturday's defeat by Warrenpoint Town. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
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Portadown supporters have turned to the Championship One league table in support of the old adage of “prepare for the worst but hope for the best”.

Confirmation of the Club Licensing scheme on Monday presented a clear picture of the potential opposition Portadown may face in the result of a relegation play-off.

The focus of the management team and players may centre this weekend on the victory required at Ballymena United to protect top-flight status but many fans will hit the road for the final league game prepared for the potential permutations.

A draw for Portadown could force Pat McGibbon’s squad into a relegation play-off if Warrenpoint Town record victory by a winning margin of three clear goals and Ballinamallard United defeat Carrick Rangers.

With just three points dividing the bottom four teams in the Danske Bank Premiership, there is significant concern that a play-off may prove the final test for a Ports side so short of confidence and form this campaign.

Ards - under the guidance of Portadown-born Niall Currie - could enter the weekend as champions of the Irish League’s second-tier division.

Ards stand as one of four clubs granted a promotion licence for next season’s top-flight division, with Ballyclare Comrades out of contention due to current league position.

As a result, Institute and Larne remain the potential opponents for Portadown in any relegation play-off - with the former holding a three-point lead over the latter before Saturday’s final programme, plus with a superior goal difference.

Although provisional, sources have suggested the dates of Friday, May 6 and Wednesday, May 11 as possible dates for the two-leg play-off.

Annagh United and Loughgall were also given the green light in the Championship Club Licence application process.

Another successful push by Ports officials resulted in licences granted for both the UEFA Club and Premiership categories.

Ballinamallard United’s UEFA Club Licence was granted on the basis of having put forward Shamrock Park as a venue for European football.