Chris Casement has expressed delight and relief tonight (Friday) following confirmation that his six-game ban for an alleged headbutt has been lifted by the IFA Appeals Committee.
The Ports defender is keen to return his focus to the football pitch - starting tomorrow (Saturday) in the final Danske Bank Premiership game of the season when Linfield come to Shamrock Park - and with one eye on selection for next weekend’s Irish Cup final against Glentoran.
Casement felt his season was over when the IFA Disciplinary Committee last week confirmed the six-game ban would stand relating to an alleged incident in the Danske Bank Premiership game against Dungannon Swifts on March 14.
Portadown’s case included substantial verbal and video evidence - including a statement by the alleged victim of the headbutt, Terry Fitzpatrick, confirming Casement’s innocence.
An official appeal was lodged by the Ports and final meeting held last night (Thursday). The IFA Appeals Committee confirmed this evening (Friday) that Casement’s suspension has now been lifted.
“It is a massive relief and I am delighted everything has now been put to bed,” said Casement. “It has taken a lot longer than we wanted or thought but now I am looking forward to concentrating on the football.
“It had been weighing me down, plus it did annoy me the fact that so much focus was on me and this situation, other than the team, as we moved closer to the Irish Cup final.
“Thankfully, now I can turn to Saturday’s match with Linfield, then training next week to try and get my place in the Irish Cup final side.
“All along I was a million per cent certain of my innocence.
“However, when the first hearing went against me I was gutted.
“I cannot thank Terry Fitzpatrick enough for stepping forward and doing what he did, especially as he is a guy I had never previously had a conversation with, so it proves he is a top professional and a gentleman.
“I also owe my thanks to everyone connected to Portadown Football Club for backing me 100 percent.”
Portadown Football Club released the following statement:
“Following a review by the IFA Appeals Committee yesterday, Portadown Football Club have been informed this evening that Chris Casement’s appeal against an alleged headbutt in the recent league match against Dungannon Swifts has been successful.
“The Club are particularly delighted that Chris’s name has been cleared and his reputation is intact and would like to thank everyone who contributed to the appeals to the Disciplinary Committee and the appeals board.
“Thanks are due to Chris for his perseverance and strength of character and also to Terry Fitzpatrick for his testimony to both committees.
“A special word of thanks to Keith McGarry, a top sporting lawyer from Conn & Fenton Solicitors Lisburn, who prepared a first class case in a very short time with a successful outcome.
“The Club would like to thank all those from the media and supporters, from both our own and indeed other clubs, who have given their support to Chris during the last number of difficult weeks.”