2013–14 NIFL Premiership

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NIFL Premiership
Season 2013–14
Champions Cliftonville
5th Irish title (inc. 1 shared)
Relegated Ards
Champions League Cliftonville
Europa League Glenavon
Matches played 228
Goals scored 712 (3.12 per match)
Top goalscorer Joe Gormley (27 goals)
Biggest home win Portadown 11–0 Ballinamallard United
(7 September 2013)
Biggest away win Dungannon Swifts 0–5 Portadown
(26 October 2013)
Highest scoring Portadown 11–0 Ballinamallard United
(7 September 2013)
Highest attendance 5,389[1]
Glentoran 1–2 Linfield
(26 December 2013)
Lowest attendance 63[1]
Warrenpoint Town 0–2 Ards
(8 March 2014)
Average attendance 867[1]

The 2013–14 NIFL Premiership (known as the Danske Bank Premiership for sponsorship reasons) was the sixth season of Northern Ireland's national football league in this format since its inception in 2008, the 113th season of Irish league football overall, and the first season of the league as part of the newly created Northern Ireland Football League.[2] The season began on 10 August 2013 and concluded on 26 April 2014.

During the sixth round of fixtures, which were played on 7 September 2013, Portadown defeated Ballinamallard United 11–0 at Shamrock Park. This equalled the post-war record for the biggest win in the top-flight, which was set 47 years earlier in the 1966–67 season when Distillery defeated Bangor by the same scoreline in November 1966.[3] In their first season back in the top flight since 2005–06, Ards finished bottom of the table. This was confirmed on 12 April 2014, after Warrenpoint Town defeated Dungannon Swifts 4–0 to leave Ards 10 points adrift in 12th place with only three fixtures remaining.[4] Their relegation was confirmed on the final day of the season, when Institute won the 2013–14 NIFL Championship 1 title.[5]

Cliftonville were the defending champions after winning their fourth league title last season – their first since the 1997–98 season.[6] They went on to retain the title for the first time in the club's history - their fourth outright league title and fifth overall.[7] They were entered into the second qualifying round of the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League, with the league runners-up Linfield, 3rd-placed Crusaders, and the 2013–14 Irish Cup winners, Glenavon, entered into the first qualifying round of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League.


After successfully gaining the required Championship Club Licence from the IFA, 2012–13 Championship 1 winners Ards were promoted to this season's Premiership. The club returned to the top flight for the first time since they were relegated in the 2005–06 season.[8] After 11 years in the top flight, last season's bottom-placed Premiership club Lisburn Distillery were relegated to intermediate football for the first time in their history, bringing to an end their record of being one of only four clubs to have retained membership of the senior Irish League since its inception in 1890.[9]

The runners-up of Championship 1, Warrenpoint Town, faced last season's 11th-placed club Donegal Celtic in the promotion/relegation play-off to decide which club would take the final place in this season's Premiership. The tie ended 2–2 on aggregate, with Warrenpoint Town winning on the away goals rule to secure promotion to the top flight of national football for the first time in their history – the club's third promotion in four years.[10]

Stadia and locations[edit]

Location of the Belfast-based teams in the NIFL Premiership 2013-14
Club Stadium Location Capacity[11][12]
Ards Clandeboye Park Bangor 2,000 (500 seated)
Dixon Park Ballyclare 2,000 (500 seated)
Ballinamallard United Ferney Park Ballinamallard 2,000 (250 seated)
Ballymena United The Showgrounds Ballymena 3,050 (2,200 seated)
Cliftonville Solitude Belfast 2,530 (all seated)
Coleraine The Showgrounds Coleraine 2,496 (1,106 seated)
Crusaders Seaview Belfast 3,383 (all seated)
Dungannon Swifts Stangmore Park Dungannon 5,000 (300 seated)
Glenavon Mourneview Park Lurgan 4,160 (4,000 seated)
Glentoran The Oval Belfast 5,056 (3,991 seated)
Linfield Windsor Park Belfast 12,342 (all seated)
Portadown Shamrock Park Portadown 3,940 (2,765 seated)
Warrenpoint Town Milltown Warrenpoint 2,000 (250 seated)
Stangmore Park Dungannon 5,000 (300 seated)


Ards nominated Bangor's home ground, Clandeboye Park, as the venue for their home games as they had been without a home ground since 2002. However, as a result of construction work being carried out to the ground, their first four home matches of the season were played at Dixon Park – the home of Championship side Ballyclare Comrades. The other newly promoted side, Warrenpoint Town, played some of their home fixtures at Dungannon Swifts' ground, Stangmore Park.[13] This was due to improvements being carried out at their own ground, Milltown, in order to upgrade it to Premiership standard. However, the first ever Premiership game to be played at the ground, which was against Glenavon, was abandoned during half-time due to floodlight failure.[14] The first completed fixture at the ground was a 2–0 win over Ards on 26 December 2013. That match also experienced floodlight problems, delaying kick-off for the second half by 20 minutes.[15]

League table[edit]

Qualification or relegation
1 Cliftonville (C) 38 26 7 5 88 39 +49 85 Qualification to Champions League second qualifying round
2 Linfield 38 24 7 7 81 46 +35 79 Qualification to Europa League first qualifying round
3 Crusaders 38 18 12 8 67 42 +25 66
4 Portadown 38 18 8 12 77 53 +24 62
5 Glentoran 38 16 11 11 54 42 +12 59
6 Glenavon 38 15 6 17 75 79 −4 51 Qualification to Europa League first qualifying round 1
7 Ballymena United 38 13 8 17 48 59 −11 47
8 Dungannon Swifts 38 12 8 18 49 66 −17 44
9 Coleraine 38 10 12 16 51 61 −10 42
10 Ballinamallard United 38 10 9 19 35 70 −35 39
11 Warrenpoint Town 38 10 6 22 43 72 −29 36
12 Ards (R) 38 6 6 26 44 83 −39 24 Relegation to NIFL Championship 1

Source: rsssf.com
Rules for classification: 1st points; 2nd goal difference; 3rd number of goals scored; 4th head-to-head points; 5th head-to-head goal difference
1Glenavon qualified for the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League first qualifying round by winning the 2013–14 Irish Cup.
(C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (E) = Eliminated; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round.


Matches 34–38[edit]

During matches 34–38 each team played every other team in their half of the table once. As this was the fourth time that teams had played each other this season, home sides were chosen so that they had played each other twice at home and twice away.

Top scorers[edit]

Rank Scorer Club Goals[16]
1 Northern Ireland Joe Gormley Cliftonville 27
2 Northern Ireland Darren Murray Portadown 23
3 Northern Ireland Andrew Waterworth Linfield 22
4 Northern Ireland Liam Boyce Cliftonville 21
5 Scotland Gary Twigg Portadown 19
6 Northern Ireland Darren Boyce Ballymena United† 16
Northern Ireland Jordan Owens Crusaders 16
8 England Guy Bates Glenavon 14
Northern Ireland Paul Heatley Crusaders 14
10 Northern Ireland Daniel Hughes Warrenpoint Town 12

Darren Boyce scored 12 goals for Dungannon Swifts while on loan from parent club Coleraine, before transferring to Ballymena United in January 2014.

Promotion/relegation play-off[edit]

The play-off did not take place this season because Bangor, runners-up of the 2013–14 NIFL Championship 1, did not possess a licence to participate in top-flight football.[5]

NIFL Premiership clubs in Europe 2013–14[edit]

UEFA coefficient and ranking[edit]

For the 2013–14 UEFA competitions, the associations were allocated places according to their 2012 UEFA country coefficients, which took into account their performance in European competitions from 2007–08 to 2011–12. In the 2012 rankings used for this season's European competitions, Northern Ireland's coefficient points total was 2.583. After earning a score of 0.500 during the 2011–12 European campaign, the league was ranked by UEFA as the 48th best league in Europe out of 53 - up one place from 49th the previous season. This season Northern Ireland earned 0.875 points, which was added to the points total for the 2014 rankings used in 2015–16 UEFA competitions.

UEFA Champions League[edit]

After winning the league last season, Cliftonville were the sole representatives in the 2013–14 UEFA Champions League. They entered the draw in the second qualifying round. The draw to discover their opponents took place on 24 June 2013, and Cliftonville were rewarded with a dream tie against Scottish giants, Celtic. The first leg took place at Solitude on 17 July 2013, and Celtic earned a comfortable 3–0 win. The second leg was played at Celtic Park on 23 July 2013, with Celtic winning 2–0 for a comfortable 5–0 aggregate victory.

Second Qualifying round

First leg

Cliftonville 0 – 3 Scotland Celtic
Report Lustig Goal 25'
Samaras Goal 31'
Forrest Goal 84'
Attendance: 5,442

Second leg

Celtic Scotland 2 – 0 Cliftonville
Ambrose Goal 16'
Samaras Goal 70'
Attendance: 29,758

Celtic won 5–0 on aggregate.

UEFA Europa League[edit]

2012–13 League runners-up Crusaders, third-placed Linfield, and Irish Cup winners Glentoran all earned a place in the UEFA Europa League. They entered the draw at the first qualifying round. The draw to discover their opponents took place on 24 June 2013. Glentoran were paired against KR of Iceland while Linfield faced ÍF Fuglafjørður from the Faroe Islands. For the second consecutive season, Crusaders were drawn to play Rosenborg of Norway, the team they lost 4–0 on aggregate to at the same stage of last season's competition. Crusaders played the first leg at home on 4 July 2013 and went down 2–1 to Rosenborg, having led the match 1–0. In the second leg, Crusaders were well beaten 7–2 away from home, crashing out of the competition 9–3 on aggregate. Glentoran were away from home for the first leg and came away with a respectable 0–0 draw, however in the second leg at home they were disappointingly defeated 3–0 and exited the competition 3–0 on aggregate.

Linfield played their first leg in the Faroe Islands on 3 July 2013, and came away with a 2–0 victory. This was the club's first European away win in 47 years, since a 4–1 victory away to Vålerengen in the second round of the 1966–67 European Cup.[17] In the second leg, Linfield won 3–0 to go through to the next round 5–0 on aggregate - the first time in the club's history that they had won both legs of a European tie. After the exit of both Crusaders and Glentoran from the competition, this left Linfield as the league's only representative in the second qualifying round. They faced Greek side Xanthi in the next round. Despite being massive underdogs for the tie, a 1–0 victory in the away leg made it three consecutive victories for Linfield in Europe, without conceding a goal in the process - another first for the club. However, in the second leg at home they went down 2–1 after extra time, which eliminated them on the away goals rule.

First Qualifying round

First legs

ÍF Faroe Islands 0 – 2 Linfield
Report Waterworth Goal 68'
Lowry Goal 74'

Crusaders 1 – 2 Norway Rosenborg
Owens Goal 22' Report Chibuike Goal 45+1'
Svensson Goal 77'
Attendance: 948

KR Iceland 0 – 0 Glentoran
Attendance: 967

Second legs

Linfield 3 – 0 Faroe Islands ÍF
Gault Goal 40'
Mulgrew Goal 55'
Lowry Goal 61'
Attendance: 1,600

Linfield won 5–0 on aggregate.

Rosenborg Norway 7 – 2 Crusaders
Hoiland Goal 15'
Chibuike Goal 34'50'
Dočkal Goal 57'
Mikkelsen Goal 60'
Sørloth Goal 72'
Svensson Goal 90'
Report Leeman Goal 49'
Owens Goal 68'
Attendance: 4,003

Rosenborg won 9–3 on aggregate.

Glentoran 0 – 3 Iceland KR
Report Martin Goal 24'
Sævarsson Goal 65'90+2'
Attendance: 1,700

KR won 3–0 on aggregate.

Second Qualifying round

First leg

Xanthi Greece 0 – 1 Linfield
Report Burns Goal 25'
Attendance: 2,117

Second leg

Linfield 1 – 2 (a.e.t.) Greece Xanthi
Gault Goal 99' Report Marcelinho Goal 27'105'
Attendance: 2,494

2–2 on aggregate. Skoda Xanthi won on away goals rule.


  1. ^ a b c "Irish League Supporters Forum - Attendances". Irish League Supporters Forum. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Irish Premiership: Portadown 11-0 Ballinamallard Utd". BBC Sport. BBC. 7 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Irish Premiership: Dungannon Swifts 0-4 Warrenpoint Town". BBC Sport. BBC. 12 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Ards relegated as Bangor draw gifts promotion to Institute". BBC Sport. BBC. 26 April 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Cliftonville beat Linfield to secure Irish Premiership title". BBC Sport. BBC. 13 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Cliftonville retain Irish Premiership title for first time". BBC Sport. BBC. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "CLUB LICENSING DECISIONS ANNOUNCED". Irish Football Association. irishfa.com. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Tim McCann sacked as manager as Lisburn Distillery are relegated". BBC Sport. BBC. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Warrenpoint Town overcome Donegal Celtic in Premiership play-off". BBC Sport. BBC. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "AQW 1178/11". niassembly.gov.uk. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "Sport NI Annual review 2008/09" (PDF). sportni.net. p. 18. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Irish Premiership: Warrenpoint Town 2-1 Coleraine". BBC Sport. 30 November 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "Warrenpoint-Glenavon game abandoned after floodlight failure". BBC Sport. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "Irish Premiership: Warrenpoint Town 2-0 Ards". BBC Sport. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  16. ^ FIFA.com - Danske Bank Premiership 2013/2014 Top Scorers, archived from the original on 28 April 2014, retrieved 28 April 2014 
  17. ^ "IF 0-2 Linfield". BBC Sport. BBC. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2013.