Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran star dropped days after arrest on suspicion of being a drug-dealer

By Chris Kilpatrick

A rising star of Irish League football has been dropped for a crucial match following revelations of his arrest on suspicion of drug dealing.

Glentoran player John McGuigan is suspected of selling ecstasy tablets to revellers at Shine nightclub on University Street in the south of the city.

The 20-year-old was arrested by police in the early hours of Sunday after being detained by door staff at the Belfast venue.

The chairman of Glentoran, Terence Brannigan, said the decision on whether McGuigan would feature in forthcoming games lay with manager Eddie Patterson.

He decided to leave the young player out of his side's league clash with Ballymena United last night, given the publicity surrounding the claims.

"We have a duty of care to John and we will give him as much support as we can," said the Glens boss.

"It's important that he gets the right counselling to get him through this difficult experience.

"John needs help and we can help him get that help. We must wait and see what the Public Prosecution Service does and then assess the situation."

Mr Patterson added: "I have spoken to John and he is naturally very upset.

"It would be wrong of me as Glentoran manager to ask him to play football when this matter is on his mind.

"It is only right he is given time to come to terms with what has happened.

"He is 20 years old and been a regular in our first team. International managers have also recognised his talent.

McGuigan was released on bail and a report sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

Glentoran added in a statement on their website: "Despite recent speculation, Glentoran Football Club confirms that at present no employee of the club has been charged with a criminal offence relating to illegal drugs.

"Glentoran is a local football club with a long-standing link to and participation in the broader community.

"The club has since 1882 had an absolute and ongoing commitment to youth development in football.

"As such the club has a zero tolerance approach to illegal drugs in any form. The club will always act in accordance with those principles."

STORY SO FAR

The Belfast Telegraph revealed on Thursday that John McGuigan had been arrested for alleged possession of Class A drugs and possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply. It is understood a quantity of white powder and a number of tablets were seized by police at the scene.

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