Donacien Still Waiting for Clearance to Join Town Permanently
Thursday, 18th Oct 2018 17:41
Janoi Donacien may be on loan at Town from Accrington Stanley but he admits he already feels like a permanent signing, although no such deal can be finalised without government say-so.
The St Lucian-born defender is awaiting clearance from the top in the form of a biometric residence permit, a document issued by the Home Office that is similar in size of a credit card and contains biographic details – name, date and place of birth – and biometric information in the form of a facial image and fingerprints. Despite the fact he has lived in the UK since 2001, the long-awaited card will grant him permanent residency.
A £750,000 deal is already in place for the player and his soon-to-be former club, who he helped to win the League Two title last season, have even decided they are going to spend their windfall on new dressing rooms.
Donacien, 24, said: “I’m still on loan until I get my biometric card back from the Home Office, whenever they get it sorted for me. It’s all down to them and I’m hoping to hear something soon. I’ve got no idea about a timeframe. Have I called the Home Office? No, I didn’t even know you could do that?
“I’ve applied for leave to remain, which means staying permanently. It’s frustrating but it’s out of my hands. I have done everything that I can do so now it’s just a case of waiting to hear.
“This is a process that has been part of my entire life here. It happened when I was at Aston Villa so it’s nothing new to me. When I go out on to the pitch I leave all that behind me and I concentrate on enjoying my football.”
Donacien’s case was even aired in Parliament back in 2012 when he was on the books at Villa Park but was unable to travel abroad to play in the Champions League-style NextGen Series, an U19 youth tournament, because it would have meant not being allowed back into the country.
He recalled: “I was born and raised in St Lucia and I moved over to England when I was seven. My mother moved over first and then she sent for me and my brothers. When the problem first came up, when I was at Villa, we went to our local MP in Luton, Gavin Shuker, and he helped us by raising awareness and asking the right questions on our behalf.”
The story made national headlines and Mr Shuker’s intervention saw Donacien and his family granted three years of discretionary leave, which was repeated again in 2015.
He added: “I’m confident it will be okay and I’ll get the card that says ‘You’re sweet’. That would make it final and I’d be free to come and go like everyone else. I know I’m on loan at the moment but I feel like a signed player and that’s the way I am thinking.”
But the hold-up has already interrupted Donacien’s career at Portman Road. Until Jon Walters’s injury and subsequent return to parent club Burnley, the former Accrington man was one of six loan signings and rules only permit a total of five to be included within the matchday squad of 18, which forced him to sit out a couple of games.
The sooner he obtains the necessary clearance, therefore, the better it will be for Donacien, who has surprisingly yet to attract the attention of the St Lucia football authorities at a time when playing regularly in England’s second tier should, one would think, provide an automatic route into their international squad, currently rated 166th in FIFA’s latest world rankings.
“I haven’t really thought about playing international football to be honest because my priority has been to get to as high a level of club football as I can,” Donacien said.
“All I’m thinking about at the moment is my club career and establishing myself here at Ipswich Town.”
He added: “St Lucia have not been in touch. I must be flying under the radar or maybe they have better players.
“But if they want to ring me, of course I’d be interested to hear what they have to say. I’m open to hearing from them.
“Somebody said the St Lucia FA are on Twitter and have been putting some stuff out – but all I can say is that my inbox is empty.
“I’ve heard Ipswich had a St Lucian player [Earl Jean] before. It was my brother who told me and he said he played for, what was it, 20 minutes?”
Jean, now 47, was signed by then Town boss George Burley in 1996, famously and briefly making his one and only appearance as a substitute in a 1-1 home draw with Stoke City before later moving on to Rotherham and Plymouth.
Like Donacien, he was born in Castries, and although his Ipswich career was fleeting he represented his country over a 12-year period.
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