‘Jennings ban not good for the game’
Bermuda Football Association (BFA) executive and top referee Anthony Francis has expressed mixed reaction over the multiple -year ban imposed on Southampton Rangers coach Keith Jennings.
The Royal Gazette revealed yesterday that the ex-Bermuda International had been banned for three-years by the BFA’s disciplinary committee for assaulting referee Stephen Allen
at a February 26, 2012 Premier match at Southampton Oval.
While Francis is glad to see justice served swiftly by his BFA colleagues, he is also disheartened over the loss of a “quality member” of the local football fraternity.
“I’m both pleased and upset,” the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) Devonshire South candidate said. “I am pleased because we, the football family, have taken a very serious stand against referee assaults and are glad for the support.
“But I am upset because we’ve lost a quality member of our family. While it is good we (referees) have gotten some support and punishment has been meted out, I’m also upset for the football family because we’ve lost one of our own for three -years.
“This is not good for football and also not good for Southampton Rangers who have lost a key member of their football family.”
The BFA’s disciplinary committee found the ex-Bermuda midfielder guilty of committing multiple offences during last month’s match between Rangers and Dandy Town at Southampton Oval.
The charges Jennings faced included assaulting and threatening referee Stephen Allen and hurling foul and abusive language at match officials.
Rangers were also fined $500 for failing to control their players and fans.
The club now has seven- days to appeal against the BFA’s rulings.
Rangers president Randy Raynor declined an invitation to comment when reached.
Tempers flared at Southampton Oval after referee Allen awarded the visitors a late penalty that proved to be the game winner.
After the match ended 2-1 in Town’s favour Jennings blasted the referee with the ball and then threatened to assault him near the officials’ dressing room. He also hurled foul and abusive language towards Allen’s colleagues.
Jennings’ rant was condemned by Bermuda Referees Association (BRA) who had vowed to boycott matches at Southampton Oval unless security was beefed up.
However, following a series of emergency meetings involving all stakeholders the BRA had a change of heart after the club agreed to meet the association’s demands.
Earlier this week revealed that Jennings has already been suspended by his club amid growing speculation that his days at the helm of relegation- threatened Rangers are now behind him.
His outburst has not gone down with many at the South Shore club, with some members going as far as to call for his head to roll.
“For Keith to allow his emotions to take over wasn’t good at all and has caused a PR nightmare for us,” said one anonymous club member. “Keith has been suspended until the club officially sit down with him.”
Kwame Tucker has been appointed as Rangers’ interim coach in the absence of Jennings whose one-year coaching contract has nearly expired.
Rangers are currently locked in a relegation battle with St David’s and Boulevard.
This weekend will see them face Devonshire Cougars at home before taking on Boulevard March 18 at the same venue in their final fixture of the 2011-12 campaign.
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