Bangura ruling 'next week'

Work permit panel set to decide on future of Watford teenager

Bangura: Hearing

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The future of Watford midfielder Al Bangura should be decided early next week.

A work permit panel will decide his future after Bangura was controversially refused leave to stay in the UK last month and was set to be deported to his native Sierra Leone.

But after an appeal, the 19-year-old will now travel with club officials to the hearing where six experts will decide whether he should given a permit to work in this country in exceptional circumstances.

His future will be decided by three Home Office officials and three football experts who will judge the merit of his case.

Concession

A club statement read: "Following the concession from the Government, Watford Football Club have been working hard to obtain and collate the documentary evidence needed to display to the panel that Bangura's talent as a professional is undeniable and that a return to Africa would all but end his career as a top-class footballer.

"We hope to be able to bring news of the result of the panel's findings early next week."

The teenager's chances of obtaining a work permit would normally be slim as he is uncapped and Sierra Leone are outside the top 70 nations in FIFA's rankings.

But the club were handed the unusual option of applying for a work permit after a meeting with Home Office minister Liam Byrne.

Considered

Labour MP Claire Ward was instrumental in persuading Byrne to schedule the meeting and said last month: "Because Al wouldn't qualify automatically for a work permit 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 his track record and what he brings to the game and then recommend to the Home Office whether he should be allowed to stay.

"It's a matter now for the panel to judge the sort of things that Watford fans have been seeing over the last few seasons which is just how good Al is."

The teenager has not made any league appearances this season because of injuries but played for the Hornets on 16 occasions in the Premier League last term as they were relegated.