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Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 15:01 UK

Armagh excluded from new league

Armagh City manager Gary McKinstry
Gary McKinstry's Armagh City side are set to miss out

Armagh City will not be playing in the new 12-team Premier League next season after being turned down for a domestic club licence by the Irish FA.

Fellow Carnegie Premier sides Larne and Limavady United have, as expected, also failed to gain a licence.

In another development it's believed Portadown's place in the new league is in doubt due to a late application.

Meanwhile, Glentoran, Cliftonville and Lisburn Distillery will play their European games at Mourneview Park.

The clubs have nominated the Lurgan venue as their stadium as their own grounds do not currently meet Uefa infrastructure regulations to host European football.

Six clubs have been granted Uefa club licences by the IFA - Ballymena United, Cliftonville, Glentoran, Linfield, Lisburn Distillery and Portadown.

Armagh, Crusaders, Donegal Celtic, Dungannon Swifts, Glenavon, Institute, Larne, Limavady and Newry City were refused Uefa licences.

Cliftonville have also selected Donegal Celtic's ground at Suffolk Road as their home venue for domestic games if building work at Solitude is not completed before the start of next season.

The remaining 13 clubs in the Carnegie Premier League have gained domestic licences along with First Division side Bangor.

The IFA said that the established infrastructure criteria required to gain an domestic club licence was suspended on 28 February for the 2008/9 season.

They added that this was "because it had become clear that the delay in the release of funds from the Soccer Strategies Facilities Funding Programme would directly impact on the ability of the vast majority of clubs to satisfy the ground criteria elements (particularly floodlighting) by the 31 March deadline".

I look forward to building the team back up again and getting a side together that can push to win the First Division.

Gary McKinstry

The clubs refused a domestic licence, which also include juniors Carrick Rangers and Ballymoney United, can appeal the decision.

Armagh boss Gary McKinstry was upbeat despitre the news his club will be dropping out of senior football.

"We are sitting second from bottom and we're there for a reason - we haven't accumulated enough points to stay in the league," he said.

"For the last three seasons we've punched above our weight and we've done very well to stay at that level.

"At Christmas the financial worries became more strained and the bottom line is Armagh City can't afford to play in the Premier League.

"Hopefully over the next couple of seasons that will change and we'll get a good basis to build on although obviously we'll go into the First Division.

"I look forward to building the team back up again and getting a side together that can push to win the First Division.

"Hopefully in a few years time we might be fit to go up to the top league again."

The Irish FA has reduced the number of top flight teams for next season from 16 to 12 in an attempt to produce a more professionally-run Premier League.

The IFA is investigating whether one Premier League club's application, understood to be Portadown, to join the new invitational league was submitted after the deadline.

After a meeting on Thursday the IFA said further information is required before a decision is made.

Clubs are expected to be told by 8 May who will be in the new set-up.

They were assessed on league position, attendances, facilities and also provision for women's and youth football.




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