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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 15:52 GMT
Gold pledges to stand by Pennant
Jermaine Pennant
Birmingham chairman David Gold insists he wants to sign Jermaine Pennant on a permanent deal even if the winger gets a custodial sentence for drink-driving.

But Gold is hoping the 22-year-old, who is on-loan from Arsenal until the end of the season, will avoid prison.

He said: "Jermaine has made mistakes but I don't think sending him to prison will be of benefit. If he was a thug I would say 'lock him up', but he's not.

"Whatever happens, it will not affect us wanting to sign him permanently."

I will give my promise to the judge and the court that I will personally oversee Jermaine's rehabilitation
Birmingham chairman David Gold

Pennant pleaded guilty to drink-driving in addition to driving while disqualified after being arrested at 6am in Aylesbury on 23 January.

And although Gold admits Pennant must be punished, he feels there are more suitable alternatives than prison.

Gold said: "If he is given community service, then he can do things to redeem himself like working in hospitals or with elderly people.

"Maybe he could also be electronically tagged, not allowed to go out in the evenings.

"I will give my promise to the judge and the court that I will personally oversee Jermaine's rehabilitation.

"Purely on the playing side, he has been a breath of fresh air for us and we believe we can make Jermaine into a great player."

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