Birmingham agree £3m deal with Arsenal for Pennant

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The Independent Football

The Birmingham City chairman David Gold is planning to sit down with Jermaine Pennant to discuss a permanent move to St Andrews following the young winger's release from prison yesterday.

The Birmingham City chairman David Gold is planning to sit down with Jermaine Pennant to discuss a permanent move to St Andrews following the young winger's release from prison yesterday.

Pennant, on loan at the club from Arsenal, was released on parole after serving 31 days of his three-month sentence for drink-driving offences. He will wear an electronic tag as part of his parole conditions, although he is available to play and train straight away.

Unlike Gary Croft, the Cardiff defender, who played with his electronic tag for Ipswich in 2000 immediately after his release from prison following driving offences, Pennant may be able to remove his tag for games, as it is sizable and could represent a danger both to Pennant and the other players.

Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, said he intends to support the 22-year-old, whose contract expires this summer, and the club has agreed a £3m deal with Arsenal and only needs to negotiate a contract with the player. Bruce gave Pennant a training regime to follow while he was in prison, and the player was given an hour a day to follow it.

"He's had some unfortunate issues and I'm sure that our football club is best equipped to help him and he will end up an outstanding footballer and contributor to society," Gold said. "Karren Brady [the club's managing director] has done the deal with Arsenal for Jermaine. It is now a question of talking personal terms. Hopefully we will reach an agreement and he will be a Birmingham player, not only for the rest of this season but beyond."

Bruce has always maintained that Birmingham would stand by the player. After his release yesterday, he said: "We are delighted that Jermaine is back with us again and I'm pleased that this chapter of his life has been concluded. Myself and everybody at the club will be doing all we can to ensure that Jermaine settles back into normality as soon as possible."

Pennant pleaded guilty to drink driving while disqualified and was jailed on 1 March at Aylesbury Magistrates' Court. In a statement given upon his release, he said: "It's a relief to be out, I'm looking forward to putting on my football boots and start training again. I'd like to thank all those who have helped me through this difficult period and I'll be making further statements in due course."

As well as being tagged, Pennant will be subject to a curfew, but he is expected to be available to Birmingham whenever Bruce thinks he is ready. The Blues play Tottenham on Saturday and Pennant is unlikely to start that game, but he is likely to be on the bench, with a start pencilled in for the trip to Chelsea next week.

Pennant was arrested in January after he was spotted in a car park in Aylesbury driving a Mercedes with a lamp-post dragging beneath it. He pleaded guilty to charges of drink driving, driving while disqualified and using a vehicle without insurance.

Pennant, an England Under-21 international, had originally been banned from driving for 16months in February last year.

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