2011–12 IFA Premiership

The 2011–12 IFA Premiership (known as the Carling Premiership for sponsorship reasons) was the fourth season since its establishment after a major overhaul of the league system in Northern Ireland, and the 111th season of Irish league football overall. The season began on 6 August 2011, and ended on 28 April 2012.

IFA Premiership
51st Irish title
RelegatedCarrick Rangers
Champions LeagueLinfield
Europa LeaguePortadown
Matches played228
Top goalscorerGary McCutcheon (27 goals)
Biggest home winLinfield 5–0 Donegal Celtic
Glentoran 6–1 Carrick Rangers
Linfield 5–0 Crusaders
Biggest away winLisburn Distillery 0–5 Glentoran
Dungannon Swifts 0–5 Glentoran
Highest scoringBallymena Utd 3–7 Cliftonville
Highest attendance5,300 Glentoran 1-0 Linfield (Monday 26 December 2011)
Lowest attendance94 Donegal Celtic 3-1 Dungannon Swifts (Tuesday 20 March 2012)

Linfield were the defending champions, after winning their 50th title last season.[1] They successfully defended their title, to win the league for the sixth time in seven seasons after a 2–1 home win over Portadown on 7 April 2012.[2]

Carrick Rangers were relegated to Championship 1 after only one season in the top flight. Dungannon Swifts' 2–1 win over Donegal Celtic on 21 April 2012 left them bottom of the table by four points, with only one game remaining. Lisburn Distillery retained their Premiership status by defeating Newry City 3–2 over two legs in the promotion/relegation play-off.[3]


2010–11 IFA Championship 1 winners Carrick Rangers were promoted to this season's Premiership, with last season's bottom-placed Premiership club Newry City replacing them in Championship 1.[4][5]

Championship 1 runners-up Limavady United were not eligible to take part in a promotion/relegation play-off against last season's 11th-placed Premiership club Donegal Celtic, as they did not attain the required domestic licence.[6]

Stadia and locationsEdit

Location of the Belfast-based teams in the IFA Premiership 2011-12
Club Stadium Location Capacity[7]
Ballymena United The Showgrounds Ballymena 1,418 (all seated)
Carrick Rangers Seaview Belfast 1,977 (663 seats)1
Cliftonville Solitude Belfast 2,180 (1,878 seats)
Coleraine The Showgrounds Coleraine 2,496 (1,106 seats)
Crusaders Seaview Belfast 1,977 (663 seats)
Donegal Celtic Donegal Celtic Park Belfast 2,254 (988 seats)
Dungannon Swifts Stangmore Park Dungannon 5,000 (600 seats)
Glenavon Mourneview Park Lurgan 5,000 (4,000 seats)
Glentoran The Oval Belfast 5,056 (3,991 seats)
Linfield Windsor Park Belfast 12,342 (all seated)
Lisburn Distillery New Grosvenor Stadium Lisburn 7,000 (540 seats)
Portadown Shamrock Park Portadown 2,227 (all seated)

1 Carrick Rangers played their home matches at Crusaders' Seaview ground.[8]

League tableEdit

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification or relegation
1 Linfield (C) 38 27 4 7 79 29 +50 85 Qualification to Champions League first qualifying round
2 Portadown 38 22 5 11 72 47 +25 71 Qualification to Europa League first qualifying round
3 Cliftonville 38 21 6 11 83 62 +21 69
4 Coleraine 38 18 12 8 61 38 +23 66
5 Crusaders 38 18 10 10 63 47 +16 64 Qualification to Europa League first qualifying round[a]
6 Glentoran 38 16 9 13 67 52 +15 57
7 Ballymena United 38 14 8 16 66 71 −5 50
8 Donegal Celtic 38 12 5 21 44 80 −36 41
9 Dungannon Swifts 38 8 11 19 42 71 −29 35
10 Glenavon 38 8 10 20 60 71 −11 34
11 Lisburn Distillery (O) 38 8 8 22 56 84 −28 32 Qualification to Promotion/relegation play-off
12 Carrick Rangers (R) 38 7 10 21 50 91 −41 31 Relegation to IFA 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
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (R) Relegated.
  1. ^ 2011–12 Irish Cup runners-up Crusaders qualified for the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League, as cup winners Linfield had already qualified for the UEFA Champions League.


Matches 34–38Edit

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 in this round were chosen so that teams played each other twice at home and twice away.

Promotion/relegation play-offEdit

Lisburn Distillery, the club that finished in the relegation play-off place, faced Newry City, the runners-up of the 2011–12 IFA Championship in a two-legged tie for a place in next season's IFA Premiership.

Lisburn Distillery won the tie 3–2 on aggregate and retained their Premiership status.

Newry City2 – 3Lisburn Distillery
Tierney   33'
Hughes   37'
Report Cushley   19'
Thompson   45'
Liggett   79'

Lisburn Distillery won 3–2 on aggregate and remained in the IFA Premiership

Top goalscorersEdit

Rank Scorer Club Goals[9]
1   Gary McCutcheon Ballymena United 27
2   Matthew Tipton Portadown 24
3   Gary Liggett Lisburn Distillery 22
4   Curtis Allen Coleraine 20
5   Kevin Braniff Portadown 17
  Chris Scannell Cliftonville 17
7   Rory Donnelly Cliftonville 13
8   Darren Murray Donegal Celtic 12
  David Rainey Crusaders 12
10   Mark McAllister Linfield 11

IFA Premiership clubs in Europe 2011–12Edit

UEFA coefficient and rankingEdit

For the 2011–12 UEFA competitions, the associations were allocated places according to their 2010 UEFA country coefficients, which took into account their performance in European competitions from 2005–06 to 2009–10. In the 2010 rankings used for this season's European competitions, Northern Ireland's coefficient points total was 1.624. After earning a score of only 0.125 during the 2009–10 European campaign, the league was ranked by UEFA as the 49th best league in Europe out of 53 - falling two places from 47th the previous season. This season Northern Ireland earned 0.500 points, which was added to the points total for the 2012 rankings used in 2013–14 UEFA competitions.

UEFA Champions LeagueEdit

After winning the league last season, Linfield were the league's sole representatives in the UEFA Champions League. They entered at the second qualifying round. They were drawn against Belarusian side BATE Borisov, a club that reached the group stage of the 2008–09 competition.

Linfield were massive underdogs for the tie. However they produced a commendable performance in the first leg to earn a 1–1 draw. In the second leg in Belarus, Linfield again put on a brave display but ultimately lost 0–2 to their full-time opponents and exited the competition 1–3 on aggregate.

UEFA Europa LeagueEdit

2010–11's League and Irish Cup runners-up Crusaders, 3rd-placed Glentoran, and 4th-placed Cliftonville all earned a place in the UEFA Europa League. Glentoran and Cliftonville entered the competition at the first qualifying round. Crusaders entered at the second qualifying round.

In the first qualifying round there were mixed results. Glentoran were drawn against Macedonian club FK Renova. They lost the first leg 1–2 away from home, but were 2–1 victors in the return leg at home. With the teams tied 3–3 on aggregate, the tie went to extra time and eventually to a penalty shoot-out. Glentoran won the shoot-out 3–2 to progress to the second qualifying round.

Cliftonville were drawn against Welsh side The New Saints. They earned a creditable 1–1 draw in the first leg away from home. However, they succumbed to a 0–1 defeat in the second leg at home which meant they lost the tie 1–2 on aggregate and exited the competition.

In the second qualifying round Crusaders faced Premier League side Fulham, runners-up of the competition in 2009–10. In the first leg at home, Crusaders produced a battling display, but in the end went down 1–3 to their English opponents. Glentoran were drawn against Vorskla Poltava from Ukraine. They too were defeated in the first leg at home, losing 0–2. In the second legs, both Crusaders and Glentoran crashed out of Europe after being outclassed by their opponents. Crusaders went down 0–4 to Fulham, losing the tie 1–7 on aggregate. Glentoran went down 0–3 to Vorskla Poltava, losing the tie 0–5 on aggregate.

That concluded the IFA Premiership's involvement in Europe this season.


  1. ^ "Lisburn Distillery 0-4 Linfield". BBC Sport. BBC. 26 April 2011. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  2. ^ "Linfield beat Portadown to secure Premiership crown". BBC Sport. BBC. 7 April 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Newry City 2–3 Lisburn Distillery". BBC Sport. BBC. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Carrick Rangers win league and cup on same night". BBC Sport. BBC. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Newry City 0-4 Glenavon". BBC Sport. BBC. 26 April 2011. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  6. ^ "CLUB LICENSING COMMITTEE". Irish FA. Irish FA. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  7. ^ "AQW 1178/11". niassembly.gov.uk. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  9. ^ "IFA PREMIERSHIP - TOP GOAL SCORERS". soccerway.com. soccerway.com. Retrieved 2 November 2011.