Dollingstown have been catapulted back into the Irish League following confirmation of Glebe Rangers’ decision to withdraw from the forthcoming play-off process.
The two clubs - champions of the Mid-Ulster and Ballymena and Provincial intermediate divisions respectively - were due to meet on Friday night and next Tuesday across two legs of a play-off.
The winners would then take up a position in the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League.
However, the Northern Ireland Football League have announced Ballymoney-based Glebe’s decision to pull out of the play-offs, handing Dollingstown an automatic return to the domestic game’s third-tier division.
“The NI Football League have been notified that Glebe Rangers have withdrawn from the play-offs for the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League,” confirmed the NIFL statement. “The Ballymoney-based side were crowned champions of the Ballymena & Provincial Intermediate League on Monday night and were due to participate in a two-legged play-off against Dollingstown, with the first leg this Friday 25 May.
“As a result of the withdrawal, Mid-Ulster Intermediate League winners Dollingstown will automatically be promoted take the vacant place in the 2018/2019 Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League.”
Glebe issued the following statement:
“Following consultation with all club members, Glebe Rangers FC have decided not to proceed this season with their opportunity to participate in play-offs for a place in the Premier Intermediate League,” it confirmed.
“This is not a decision which has been taken lightly and is simply down to the financial requirements of playing in the PIL,” said club spokesman John McAuley. “It would cost an additional 50 per cent to make the step up and, as a result of the current economic climate, the club have failed to secure the required backing from a number of potential sponsors.
“We will continue to work hard behind the scenes in the hope of overcoming this issue to avoid the same situation in the future as the club’s ambitions are still to play at the highest level possible within our capabilities.
“On behalf of the club, I would like to wish Dollingstown all the best in the Premier Intermediate League next season.”