The Alberta Football League's Airdrie Irish are preparing to host the defending league champion Central Alberta Buccaneers in Airdrie in quarter-final play after the league voted to award the Edmonton Elite second place in the standings.
Airdrie and Edmonton finished tied for second spot with identical records of 4-1-1. The AFL tie-breaking formula read that, if there was a tie in the standings, the first tie-breaker would be the result of the team's head-to-head play. The game between the Irish and Elite finished in a 20 - 20 tie which meant the second tie-breaker would have to be considered which was points for and against, head-to-head which was, obviously, another tie.
The third tie-breaker came down to which team scored the most points overall during the season. Remarkably, that too was a tie, with each club scoring 206 points during the year. That set the stage for the fourth tie-breaker, a coin toss, to determine which team would finish second.
However, to the displeasure of everyone involved with the Irish, the AFL President awarded second place to Edmonton, deciding to forgo the coin flip. Upon being informed of the President's decision, the Irish felt it did not follow the tie-breaker process in the bylaws and believed that the coin toss should have been used.
Airdrie consulted a lawyer to look over the league's tie-breaker formula and interpret it. He found ambiguity in the wording of the tie-breaking rule and said, because of that, the coin toss should be used to determine the final standings.
The Irish filed a grievance with the league, which was attached with the lawyer's interpretation of the bylaw as supporting evidence along with a previous, but contradictory, interpretation of the bylaw by the AFL President. All the facts were presented to the league council, which is made up of team Presidents. When the council voted, the final outcome was that they supported the original decision to award second place to the Edmonton Elite.
Following the vote the league President posted a message on Facebook which read in part:
"Edmonton had a stronger point differential and council voted that as the determining factor in the second tiebreaker. The bylaw will be re-written to make that more clear at the next AGM."
Despite being disappointed in the league's decision, Irish President Connor Lutz says the team is still very excited to be hosting their first home field playoff game in team history when they face the defending champion Buccaneers on Saturday, August 6th at Ed Eggerer Field in Airdrie. Kick-off goes at 4:30 pm.
In the league opener on June 4th, QB Josh Williams tossed three touchdown passes and used his legs to score another in a 33 – 21 Airdrie win over the Bucs in Red Deer. The Central Alberta squad also had to use the tie-breaker route to make the playoffs. They finished tied with the Peace Country Cowboys with identical 1-5 records but the Bucs' lone win came in their game against the Cowboys.
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