2015–16 NIFL Premiership

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NIFL Premiership
Season 2015–16
Champions Crusaders
6th Irish title
Relegated Warrenpoint Town
Champions League Crusaders
Europa League Linfield
Glenavon
Cliftonville
Matches played 222
Goals scored 659 (2.97 per match)
Top goalscorer Paul Heatley
Andrew Waterworth
(22 goals each)
Biggest home win Linfield 6–0 Dungannon Swifts
(2 February 2016)
Biggest away win Ballymena United 1–7 Glenavon
(12 August 2015)
Highest scoring Ballymena United 1–7 Glenavon
(12 August 2015)
Portadown 5–3 Glentoran
(14 December 2015)
Warrenpoint Town 2–6 Linfield
(29 March 2016)
Highest attendance 6,000[1]
Glentoran 1–2 Linfield
(26 December 2015)
Lowest attendance 61[1]
Warrenpoint Town 0–2 Dungannon Swifts
(12 September 2015)
Total attendance 209,590[1]
Average attendance 984[1]
All statistics correct as of 23 April 2016.

The 2015–16 NIFL Premiership (known as the Danske Bank Premiership for sponsorship reasons) is the 115th season of Irish league football overall, and the third season of the league as part of the Northern Ireland Football League.[2] The season began on 8 August 2015, and will conclude with the final round of fixtures on 23 April 2016.

Crusaders are the defending champions, after securing last season's title for the fifth time in the club's history on 18 April 2015 – their first title since the 1996–97 season.[3]

Changes from 2014–15[edit]

Teams[edit]

After finishing bottom of the table on their return to the top flight in the 2014–15 season following a four–year absence, Institute suffered relegation back to Championship 1 after only one season.[7] Carrick Rangers replaced them for this season's Premiership, after winning the 2014–15 Championship 1 title to secure a return to the top flight for the first time in the three years since they were relegated in the 2011–12 season.[8]

Warrenpoint Town finished in 11th place – the Promotion/relegation play-off place – and faced Championship 1 runners-up Bangor over two legs for the last remaining place in this season's Premiership.[9] Following a 2–2 draw on aggregate after extra time in the second leg, Warrenpoint Town eventually won 3–1 on penalties to avoid relegation and retain their Premiership status for this season.[10]

Stadia and locations[edit]

Location of the Belfast-based teams in the NIFL Premiership 2015-16
Club Stadium Location Capacity[11][12]
Ballinamallard United Ferney Park Ballinamallard 2,000 (250 seated)
Ballymena United The Showgrounds Ballymena 3,050 (2,200 seated)
Carrick Rangers Taylors Avenue Carrickfergus 4,500 (800 seated)
Seaview Belfast 3,383 (all 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 6,054 (4,989 seated)
Linfield Windsor Park Belfast 18,000 (all seated)
Portadown Shamrock Park Portadown 3,940 (2,765 seated)
Warrenpoint Town Milltown Warrenpoint 2,000 (250 seated)

*^‡ Capacity numbers are approximate estimates, as no official figures have been released since 2010.
*^† Carrick Rangers played some 'home' games at Seaview as a result of ongoing issues with their own playing surface at Taylors Avenue.
[13]

Personnel and kits[edit]

Club Manager Kit manufacturer Sponsors
Ballinamallard United Northern Ireland Whitey Anderson Nike Severfield
Ballymena United Northern Ireland David Jeffrey Uhlsport McBurney Transport
Carrick Rangers Northern Ireland Gary Haveron Nike Hankook
Cliftonville Northern Ireland Gerard Lyttle Puma Sean Graham
Coleraine Northern Ireland Oran Kearney Joma TBF Thompson
Crusaders Northern Ireland Stephen Baxter Kappa Toals
Dungannon Swifts Northern Ireland Rodney McAree Legea Donnelly Vauxhall
Glenavon Northern Ireland Gary Hamilton Nike Bedeck
Glentoran Republic of Ireland Alan Kernaghan Kappa Bet McLean
Linfield Northern Ireland David Healy Nike Geoghegan Conservatory
Portadown Northern Ireland Pat McGibbon Uhlsport MET Steel
Warrenpoint Town Northern Ireland Barry Gray Umbro Deli Lites

Managerial changes[edit]

Team Outgoing manager Manner of departure Date of vacancy Position in table Incoming manager Date of appointment
Cliftonville Northern Ireland Tommy Breslin Resigned 15 September 2015[14] 3rd Northern Ireland Gerard Lyttle 15 October 2015[15]
Linfield Northern Ireland Warren Feeney Resigned 6 October 2015[16] 1st Northern Ireland David Healy 14 October 2015[17]
Glentoran Northern Ireland Eddie Patterson Sacked 17 October 2015[18] 7th Republic of Ireland Alan Kernaghan 9 November 2015[19]
Dungannon Swifts Northern Ireland Darren Murphy Resigned 24 October 2015[20] 11th Northern Ireland Rodney McAree 27 October 2015[21]
Ballymena United Northern Ireland Glenn Ferguson Sacked 29 February 2016[22] 9th Northern Ireland David Jeffrey 7 March 2016[23]
Portadown Northern Ireland Ronnie McFall Resigned/retired 5 March 2016[24] 7th Northern Ireland Pat McGibbon 9 March 2016[25]

League table[edit]

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification or relegation[a]
1 Crusaders (C) 38 28 7 3 79 28 +51 91 Qualification for the Champions League second qualifying round
2 Linfield 38 26 5 7 91 35 +56 83 Qualification for the Europa League first qualifying round[b]
3 Glenavon 38 20 9 9 72 40 +32 69
4 Cliftonville (O) 38 18 10 10 58 53 +5 64 Qualification for the European competition play-offs[c]
5 Coleraine 38 18 4 16 47 46 +1 58
6 Glentoran 38 15 7 16 46 55 −9 52
7 Dungannon Swifts[d] 38 12 7 19 51 66 −15 43
8 Ballymena United 38 11 7 20 57 81 −24 40
9 Portadown 38 11 5 22 43 67 −24 38
10 Carrick Rangers 38 8 11 19 43 68 −25 35
11 Ballinamallard United (O) 38 9 7 22 39 59 −20 34 Qualification for the relegation play-off
12 Warrenpoint Town (R) 38 9 7 22 45 73 −28 34 Relegation to the NIFL Championship
Source: NIFL Premiership, Soccerway
Rules for classification: 1) Points; 2) Goal difference; 3) Goals scored; 4) Head-to-head points; 5) Head-to-head goal difference; 6) Drawing of lots.[27]
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (R) Relegated.
Notes:
  1. ^ Teams played each other three times (33 matches), before the league was split into two groups (the top six and the bottom six) for the last five matches.
  2. ^ Glenavon qualified for the Europa League first qualifying round by winning the 2015–16 Irish Cup.
  3. ^ Teams play for a spot in the Europa League first qualifying round.
  4. ^ Dungannon Swifts were ineligible for the European Competition play-offs, as they did not apply for a UEFA licence.[26]

Results[edit]

Matches 1–22[edit]

During matches 1–22 each team will play every other team twice (home and away).

Home \ Away[1] BMD BYM CRK CLI COL CRU DUN GLA GLT LIN POR WPT
Ballinamallard United 0–1 1–3 0–2 1–2 1–1 0–0 0–1 2–4 0–1 1–2 3–0
Ballymena United 1–1 1–1 6–1 0–2 2–4 1–0 1–7 0–1 1–3 1–1 4–2
Carrick Rangers 1–1 2–2 1–2 1–2 0–4 2–2 2–2 1–1 0–3 0–1 1–2
Cliftonville 3–1 4–2 1–0 4–0 0–1 1–0 1–1 1–0 3–3 3–0 2–1
Coleraine 2–1 2–1 2–1 0–0 1–1 1–0 0–2 1–0 1–3 4–0 2–0
Crusaders 5–0 3–2 5–0 2–2 3–1 4–0 1–0 3–0 3–0 1–2 1–0
Dungannon Swifts 2–0 2–0 1–2 0–1 0–3 1–2 1–2 2–4 0–1 3–1 5–1
Glenavon 5–1 3–1 2–0 0–1 3–0 1–2 3–1 0–0 3–2 1–0 1–1
Glentoran 0–2 1–3 2–0 2–0 1–1 2–2 1–1 2–0 1–2 1–0 2–1
Linfield 1–1 4–0 1–1 1–2 1–0 0–1 5–1 4–3 1–1 3–0 5–1
Portadown 0–3 3–2 3–2 0–1 1–2 1–3 3–3 2–2 5–3 2–0 2–1
Warrenpoint Town 0–3A 1–2 1–1 2–2 0–4 1–3 0–2 0–3 0–1 0–3 2–0

Source: NIFL Premiership
^ The home team is listed in the left-hand column.
Colours: Blue = home team win; Yellow = draw; Red = away team win.

*^A Original 0–1 result recorded as 0–3, after Warrenpoint Town fielded a suspended player in the match.[28]

Matches 23–33[edit]

During matches 23–33 each team will play every other team for the third time (either at home, or away).

Home \ Away[1] BMD BYM CRK CLI COL CRU DUN GLA GLT LIN POR WPT
Ballinamallard United 4–2 1–2 0–1 1–1 1–0 1–0
Ballymena United 1–0 2–2 0–2 2–4 0–4 3–1
Carrick Rangers 2–1 4–3 1–0 1–5 1–2 0–1
Cliftonville 2–0 3–3 1–3 0–2 1–0 1–1
Coleraine 1–0 0–2 0–1 0–1 2–3
Crusaders 0–0 1–0 2–0 1–1 4–2
Dungannon Swifts 2–2 0–1 3–1 2–1 1–0
Glenavon 1–0 1–1 3–3 1–3 4–1
Glentoran 2–0 0–2 1–0 2–1 0–4
Linfield 2–1 2–0 2–0 6–0 1–1 3–0
Portadown 3–4 0–0 0–1 0–1 2–1 1–3
Warrenpoint Town 3–0 3–0 1–1 1–3 2–6

Source: NIFL Premiership
^ The home team is listed in the left-hand column.
Colours: Blue = home team win; Yellow = draw; Red = away team win.

Matches 34–38[edit]

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

Play-offs[edit]

UEFA Europa League play-offs[edit]

A new method of Europa League qualification was introduced for this season. As a result of the Irish Cup winners (Glenavon) finishing third in the league, the four remaining teams from the top seven that have not already qualified for Europe (the teams in positions 4–7) competed in a series of play-offs for the final place in the Europa League. The play-offs were seeded, with the higher-placed qualifiers given home advantage when facing the lower-placed qualifiers in the semi-finals. The two semi-final winners then met in the final. If three teams qualify for the play-offs, the highest-placed qualifier will receive a bye into the final with home advantage.[6]

Had the Irish Cup winners finished lower than seventh in the league, all five teams that finished in third to seventh would have qualified for the play-offs. This would have required an additional quarter-final match to be played by the two lowest-placed qualifiers in sixth and seventh, with the winner joining the other three clubs in the semi-finals.[6]

Dungannon Swifts finished in seventh place, but they were ineligible for the European Competition play-offs, as they did not apply for a UEFA licence.[29] Therefore, only one semi-final match was played and fourth-placed Cliftonville were given a bye to the final.[30]

Semi-final[edit]

Coleraine 1–2 Glentoran
McGonigle Goal 85' Soccerway
BBC Sport
Birney Goal 33'
Allen Goal 58'
Referee: Andrew Davey

Final[edit]

Cliftonville 3–2 Glentoran
Donnelly Goal 11'
Knowles Goal 62' (pen.)
McDaid Goal 80'
Soccerway
BBC Sport
Allen Goal 17'
Magee Goal 28'
Referee: Raymond Crangle

NIFL Premiership play-off[edit]

Eleventh-placed Ballinamallard United will play Institute, the play-off qualifier from the 2015–16 NIFL Championship 1 over two legs for a place in the 2016–17 NIFL Premiership. The Premiership club will play the first leg away from home, with home advantage for the second leg.

The matches were originally set to played on 6 May and 10 May 2016.[31]

Institute 1–2 Ballinamallard United
McCrudden Goal 26' (pen.) Soccerway
BBC Sport
O'Flynn Goal 22'
Currie Goal 69'
Referee: Keith Kennedy

On 9 May 2016, the IFA postponed the second leg until the conclusion of an investigation into allegations that Gary Haveron, the manager of Carrick Rangers may have failed to correctly serve a touchline ban. It is alleged that he was in the dugout at their 23 April match against Dungannon Swifts, which they won 3–1, instead sitting out another game when he was not actually banned. The possible ramifications of these allegations were that if it was found that Haveron did not properly serve the ban, the penalty would have been a minimum fine of £350 and Carrick Rangers would forfeit the game as a 0–3 loss. This three-point deduction would have moved Carrick to the bottom of the table and automatic relegation, Ballinamallard would have risen to 10th and safety and Warrenpoint town would have risen to 11th and would then face Institute in the Play-off. Carrick Rangers were formally charged with a formal breach of Article 23.1 of the IFA Disciplinary code and on 14 May Carrick Rangers announced that they will contest the charge and will make a further statement following receipt of legal advice. [32] On 18 May, however, no sanctions were imposed on the club after a disciplinary hearing and the second leg of the Play-off was rescheduled for 22 June.[33]


Ballinamallard United 3–3 Institute
Friars Goal 22'
Beacom Goal 59'
Feeney Goal 90+4'
Soccerway Dunne Goal 17'
Brown Goal 28'
McGinty Goal 62'
Referee: Raymond Hetherington

Ballinamallard United won 5–4 on aggregate.

Season statistics[edit]

Top goalscorers[edit]

As of 23 April 2016
Rank Scorer Club Goals[35]
1 Northern Ireland Paul Heatley Crusaders 22
Northern Ireland Andrew Waterworth Linfield 22
3 Northern Ireland Aaron Burns Linfield 19
4 Northern Ireland Curtis Allen Glentoran 18
Northern Ireland Jordan Owens Crusaders 18
6 Northern Ireland Eoin Bradley Glenavon 17
7 Northern Ireland Stephen Murray Warrenpoint Town 15
8 Northern Ireland Andrew Mitchell Dungannon Swifts 14
9 Portugal Miguel Chines Carrick Rangers 12
Northern Ireland David McDaid Cliftonville 12
Northern Ireland James McLaughlin Coleraine 12

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Irish League Supporters Forum – Attendances". Irish League Supporters Forum. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "NORTHERN IRELAND FOOTBALL LEAGUE". NIFL Premiership. 
  3. ^ "Irish Premiership: Crusaders 2-0 Glentoran". BBC Sport. BBC. 18 April 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Country coefficients 2014/15". UEFA.com. 
  5. ^ "UEFA Country Ranking 2015". Bert Kassies. 
  6. ^ a b c "NIFL Regulations and Club Information – Season 2015/16" (PDF). Northern Ireland Football League. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Irish Premiership: Institute 1-2 Ballymena Utd". BBC Sport. BBC. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "Carrick Rangers are promoted to Irish Premiership". BBC Sport. BBC. 25 April 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Irish Premiership: Dungannon Swifts 1-1 Warrenpoint Town". BBC Sport. BBC. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Premiership play-off: Warrenpoint beat Bangor on penalties". BBC Sport. BBC. 1 May 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  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. ^ "Carrick Rangers to play three 'home' games at Seaview". BBC Sport. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  14. ^ "Tommy Breslin quits as Cliftonville manager". BBC Sport. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  15. ^ "Gerard Lyttle succeeds Tommy Breslin as Cliftonville manager". BBC Sport. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Warren Feeney quits Linfield to become Newport assistant boss". BBC Sport. 6 October 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  17. ^ "David Healy appointed as new Linfield manager". BBC Sport. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  18. ^ "Irish Premiership: Eddie Patterson sacked as manager of Glentoran". BBC Sport. 17 October 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  19. ^ "Glentoran name Alan Kernaghan as new manager". BBC Sport. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  20. ^ "Darren Murphy resigns as Dungannon boss after defeat by Ballymena". BBC Sport. 24 October 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  21. ^ "Rodney McAree installed as head coach of Dungannon Swifts". BBC Sport. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  22. ^ "Glenn Ferguson sacked as Ballymena United manager". BBC Sport. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016. 
  23. ^ "David Jeffrey appointed as new Ballymena manager". BBC Sport. 7 March 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  24. ^ "Ronnie McFall: Europe's longest-serving boss resigns after 29 years". BBC Sport. 5 March 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016. 
  25. ^ "Portadown appoint Pat McGibbon as interim boss". BBC Sport. 9 March 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  26. ^ "Fine form won't see Swifts return to Europe". Tyrone Courier. 23 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  27. ^ "NIFL Regulations and Club Information – Season 2015/16" (PDF). Northern Ireland Football League. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  28. ^ "Moan mistake will earn Warrenpoint a slap on wrist". Belfast Telegraph. 12 August 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015. 
  29. ^ "Fine form won't see Swifts return to Europe". Tyrone Courier. 23 March 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016. 
  30. ^ "EUROPA LEAGUE PLAY-OFF DATES". nifootballleague.com. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016. 
  31. ^ "DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP RELEGATION PLAY-OFF ARRANGEMENTS". nifootballleague.com. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016. 
  32. ^ "BBC Sport". Retrieved 14 May 2016. 
  33. ^ "Carrick face no sanction after hearing into Haveron charge". BBC Sport. 18 May 2016. 
  34. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/36580332
  35. ^ "FIFA.com - Danske Bank Premiership 2015/2016 Top Scorers". Retrieved 8 August 2015.