Bangura deportation delayed
The deportation of Watford midfielder Al Bangura has been delayed pending further hearings.
By Peter Fraser
Last Updated: 19/12/07 2:29pm
The deportation of Watford midfielder Al Bangura has been delayed pending further hearings following an appeal to the Home Office.
Bangura arrived in Britain as an asylum seeker from Sierra Leone, but he is now in danger of being deported after the Home Office appealed a ruling which cleared him to stay.
The 19-year-old had previously been granted asylum, but the Home Office said his status changed when he turned 18.
However, a Watford delegation - including Hornets chairman Graham Simpson and MP Claire Ward - have appealed to Home Office Minister Liam Byrne and an application for a work permit will now be considered by an independent panel.
"We have had a very good meeting with the minister Liam Byrne and we've been offered another avenue which we hope will lead to Al being allowed to remain in the country," Ward told Sky Sports News.
"That avenue is through the work permit. The minister has given a concession which will allow Watford to apply for a work permit and allow Al to remain in the country while he does so, which is exceptional.
"Because Al wouldn't qualify automatically for a work permit then his case will be considered by an independent panel which will include members of the Home Office and members of the football world.
"They will consider the criteria and his track record and what he brings to the game and then recommend to the Home Office whether he should be allowed to have the work permit."
Ward also confirmed that Watford will be submitting a legal appeal at the end of this week to work in parallel to the work permit application, which will also be submitted in the next few days.
"At the same time the lawyers will be submitting Al's appeal through the legal process to the determination of the tribunal," Ward added.
"Essentially what the minister and the Home Office have done is open up a new route by which we hope Al will be allowed to stay in the UK."
Simpson has admitted his delight at the decision to delay Bangura's deportation.
"It's fantastic news, very positive," Simpson told Sky Sports News. "We are very hopeful now that we can find a way through. It's not over yet. It's not a done deal. It's a positive move forward."