11 February 2009
Bird closer to UK visa grant to play in the Super League
Greg Bird, an Australian Test rugby league player, is looking to join his Bradford teammates on the pitch as early as this Sunday, reports the Associated Press.
Bird has had trouble getting his UK visa application approved so that he can play in the UK Super League competition this year, because of an impending court case involving his supposed assault on his girlfriend.
The Cronulla Sharks league star is confident that he will be acquitted of the charges, and has asked permission for leave from Australia to play in the UK until he is required to attend the hearing in late April.
As part of the new UK immigration system, authorities have been cracking down on issuing visas to sports players who have criminal convictions. This year already, league stars Michael Crocker and Todd Carney both had their UK work permit applications refused by the Home Office.
The chairman of Bradford says he is confident Bird would be in the UK by the weekend.
"We're expecting to hear a decision early this week," Bradford chairman Peter Hood told reporters in England. "If that does come through and he gets the visa, he could be here a few days later."
"We'll just have to wait to hear what the outcome is and I know he has a couple of things to sort domestically but hopefully he should be on a flight pretty swiftly if all goes according to plan."
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.