A Northern Ireland Football League ruling may have put the final stamp on securing Annagh United’s Championship One safety but manager Nigel Armstrong has rejected any accusation of a red-tape helping hand.
Bangor’s failure to qualify for the Championship Club Licence has cost the Seasiders a spot in next season’s Irish League second-tier division - with PSNI expected to secure automatic promotion from Championship Two as the only club able to meet the criteria for advancement.
Lisburn Distillery and Donegal Celtic have both been relegated from Championship One’s 14-strong table - with Annagh United cemented just one spot above the relegation zone ahead of the season’s final fixture tomorrow (Saturday) at home.
The required reshuffle by the game’s administrators designed to secure a 12-team Championship One division for next season has protected Annagh off the field due to various issues relating to other clubs’ licence problems.
However, Armstrong points to the team’s on-the-pitch record as evidence of Annagh’s standing after a debut Championship One campaign.
“We have Donegal Celtic at home this weekend for the final match and a win would put us on 30 points for the season, which has often been enough in the past to keep teams up,” said the Annagh boss. “Under normal circumstances, to finish third from the bottom would be outside the relegation zone so I prefer to focus on that aspect rather than diminish the hard work put in by so many by pointing to a technicality.
“We managed to secure our Championship Club Licence this week thanks to commitment from a small but dedicated group, especially our secretary, Noel Walker.
“And that togetherness has helped us in all aspects during this season of fresh challenges on so many fronts.
“Club spirit plays a big role in everything and even the small gestures show how this is a tight-knit club, such as everyone offering congratulations to Steven Park and Katherine on the birth of baby Josias.
“This is a family club and we have all made such excellent progress together, with some players with experience from before at this level really working hard to help the young lads.
“We have signed a lot of young players and it has been great to see them develop and adjust together, even in last week’s derby defeat to Loughgall when I felt the performance deserved so much more.”
Kick-off will be 3 o’clock.