Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 16:53 UK

'Red card' for prison footballers

A prison football team has been shown the red card after visiting teams shouted "foul" over sniffer-dog searches.

HMP Channings Wood, near Newton Abbot, have had a team in the South Devon Football league for 26 years.

But at the league's Annual General Meeting (AGM), clubs voted by 26 to 25 to give the inmates the boot.

Other complaints included no away fixtures for the inmates and alleged intimidation by Channings Wood fans.

League chairman Mike Beer told BBC News when Channings Wood first joined the league, they played both home and away fixtures.

We are clearly disappointed with this decision
Adrian Turner, acting governor

"Unfortunately, the prison authority put a stop to that a few years later when two players attempted to abscond," he said.

Mr Beer said since then, the inmates' side had been given special dispensation on a number of issues, but there was a limit to the number of concessions the other teams were prepared to make.

"You can't blame the players - it's the administration that's let them down," he said.

"All of us are sorry they're gone. They were a good little side and had won a few trophies.

"But you can't have one set of rules for them and a different set for the others."

Unregistered players

The Channings Wood team finished sixth in the league's second division this year.

Anthony Roach, registration secretary for the league, said it had been the closest of votes, with many of the division's two clubs voting in favour of the prison team.

"But some of the other teams said they were fed up with a few issues, including being searched, always having to travel to the prison and an issue with unregistered players," he said.

HMP Channings Wood acting governor, Adrian Turner, said: "We are clearly disappointed with this decision but will respect it and wish all the teams the best of luck for the next season."

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