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Top Soccer Coach On Bail Over Us Assault

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

BEFORE he could officially accept his new job as the Technical Director for the Bahamas Football Association, former Queens Park Rangers (QPR) captain Marc Bircham found himself before the court of law in the United States facing a charge of aggravated battery.

The 42-year-old Londoner was arrested by police in St Petersburg, Florida, in the early hours of Friday morning, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, which listed Bircham’s bail at $10,000 following the incident, of which details are yet to be confirmed.

It is not yet known whether Bircham was carrying a weapon at the time of the offence. But aggravated battery with a deadly weapon is a second-degree felony in Florida, and if found guilty can result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years for first time offenders, as well as a fine of $10,000.

Reports indicated that Bircham was appointed as technical director of the BFA in March, in a role which he oversees the men’s, women’s and youth teams, as well as a centre of excellence.

But according to BFA’s president Sealey, they had not yet officially inked the deal on Bircham’s two-year contract, which allowed him to replace former TD Garry Markham.

“We made an offer to him, which he accepted, but we haven’t signed a contract,” he said. “An offer was made, which he accepted, but the contract was not officially signed.”

Although the BFA’s offer was made in March, Sealey said they are aware of Birchamn’s incident last week, but they are still not clear as to all of the circumstances surrounding his arrest.

“We have to wait until they get the details and the facts surrounding the incident before we can really comment any further,” Sealey said. “We don’t want to presume the guy guilty until he’s proven as such.

“But we are aware of the incident and we will discuss the way forward with our committee once we have all of the facts and make a determination one way or the other.”

After starting his career with Millwall, Bircham spent five years at Loftus Road between 2002-2007 where he became a fan favourite.

Since hanging up his boots in 2009, the Londoner has held a number of coaching roles - including as caretaker manager at Loftus Road for one game alongside Kevin Gallen that same year.

He has also worked at Millwall - as well as stateside as an assistant manager at MLS side Chicago Fire - as well as Arizona United.

Sealey said while Markham’s contract ended a year ago, they kept him as they worked on getting a replacement for him this year.

He noted that they were waiting on Bircham’s arrival to complete the new deal, but the Bahamas government closed the boarders due to the spread of the coronavirus before he can get in town.

As they now contemplate their next move, with or without Bircham, depending on the outcome of his case, Sealey said the BFA is abiding by the rules initiated by the health officials and are working on the resumption of sports in the country.

“We have written to the BOC (Bahamas Olympic Committee) and the Ministry of Sports to see whether our national team can resume training, but we haven’t heard anything from them yet,” he said.

“But like everybody else, we have shut down everything and just waiting on when we can resume our activities in some form, shape or fashion. We are in the process of putting the necessary protocols in place like the sanitation stations and other items in our bathrooms once we resume again.”

The BFA’s head office is located on Rosetta Street, but their main field of operation is at the Roscoe Davies Developmental Center at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.

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