NIBFA clear up eligibility over Portadown’s Callum Ferris for Glenavon derby

Callum Ferris.
Callum Ferris.

Northern Ireland Boys’ Football Association official Gerry McKee has confirmed Callum Ferris was eligible to appear for Portadown in the Boxing Day derby against Glenavon.

The dramatic 2-2 draw featured 15-year-old Ferris on the substitutes’ bench for the Danske Bank Premiership clash.

The Northern Ireland youth international did not step on to the Shamrock Park pitch but has subsequently been dragged into the post-match debate over David Elebert’s eligibility.

Portadown made contact with the Irish Football Association this week to request clarification if Elebert should have been suspended for the Mid-Ulster showpiece.

A ruling from the IFA disciplinary committee is expected before next weekend, with a meeting scheduled following the festive holiday period.

Elebert was listed on the IFA website as due to serve a one-game ban from the week starting Monday, December 19.

Glenavon claim the green light was provided by the game’s officials in advance of the derby that Elebert could feature as his fifth caution arrived in the Premiership Development League and, as a result, any suspension would apply to the under 20s.

However, the IFA Disciplinary Code states a ban based on the accumulation of cautions must be served with “the more senior team”.

A social media debate following Boxing Day highlighted Ferris’ inclusion in the senior matchday squad as a potential infringement by Portadown following the teenager’s dismissal in the National League for the under 17s against Glenavon on Friday, December 9.

Ferris’ status was part of casual post-match conversations between Glenavon and Portadown representatives on Boxing Day. Shamrock Park officials had received clarification over any eligibility for the senior club during earlier communication between the Shamrock Park outfit, Northern Ireland Boys’ Football Association and Northern Ireland Football League.

Now NIBFA have gone on record as to Ferris’ situation and confirmed suspensions will only be served across games under the umbrella of that body.

“It is my understanding that if the Irish Football Association issue a ban then that applies to ALL football,” said McKee, a NIBFA official. “If a league issue a ban then that applies to that league.”

Ferris served an automatic one-game suspension on December 16 when Portadown Youth played Crusaders in the NIBFA-controlled National League.