Friday, February 19, 2010

Marcus Hallows vs Ashton United/Danny White - Verdict

Be warned - this WILL be a long one - for me anyway ....

At 1700 tonight this appeared on the Ashton United website - via Chairman Dave Aspinall:

Ashton United FC are disappointed that the courts have found against the club and former player Danny White in this distressing case. This verdict opens a potential can of worms for every single football club up and down the land as, based on the precedent set in this case, any incident resulting in an injury may now be subject to a legal challenge, regardless of the lack of any intent.

Speaking as someone deeply committed to the game of football, I fully understanding Marcus Hallows’ wish to seek redress for the unfortunate injury that he suffered in a challenge with Danny White during the game between Altrincham and Ashton United on March 19th 2005, however, Ashton United FC always felt that, as Mr Hallows’ injuries were suffered as the result of an accidental collision between two consenting adults playing a sport with a known degree of risk, no liability was owed by either Danny White or Ashton United for a genuine, if unfortunate, accident.

The club wishes to make no further comment at this stage until it has consulted with its legal advisors about the potential ramifications for both Ashton United and Danny White following this verdict. It is the club's understanding that no appeal may be forthcoming unless there is a dispute over a point of law

OK - some background here - on 19th March 2005 Altrincham entertained Ashton United. During the game Marcus Hallows was badly injured after a tackle by Danny White - he suffered fractures of both tib and fib and had to wait over 30 minutes before an ambulance arrived - on the way to the hospital his heart stopped. Danny White was not booked for the tackle.

A picture of the tackle - I must point out that it was the trailing left leg of Danny White that connected with Hallows' right leg and caused the injuries.

In June 2008 - yes over 3 years after the event - Hallows sued both Danny White and Ashton United for potential loss of earnings based on a semi-pro career until 35 years of age - Hallows was nearly 30 at the time of the incident. Original stories talked of £32,500 - later stories had the figure as high as £100,000 - certainly enough to financially ruin both club and individual - in fact I did touch on the case on this very blog back then . The story made national headlines at the time - one of the many quotes was that Hallows had to "restart his career" by becoming an Elvis Presley impersonator - not really - he was earning money from this act well before the accident (ask Sam Allardyce's wife) - and he has worked with a flooring company/in sales - as a semi-professional he could not have been dependent on his earnings from football.

In December 2009, Expert witnesses were brought into the case - acting for Hallows, Garry Mabbutt (ex-Spurs) said "It was an uncontrolled lunge" - acting for AUFC/Danny White, Jeff Winter (ex-ref) said "This particular challenge is commonplace in football at all levels" - unlike those 'lucky ones' at Premiership level, there was no video evidence - these experts were working off photos such as the one above and verbal statements of people "who were there". Ashton United had argued from the start that the tackle was "not malicious" but a "collision" - and also the fact that neither referee or linesmen took any action at the time.

A couple of points ref insurance - because the game was an away game for Ashton United, their public liability insurance would not cover any claims - as regards individual player insurance, I'm not so sure as obviously there are contract and non-contract players and I would think there are various ways and means - and much of it is up to the individual player rather than their club . A point of information - I as a "snapper" HAVE to personally take out £2 million of public liability insurance in order to take photographs at Conference level - it costs me about £90 a year - and I found this on the web tonight - obviously just an example but ...

Anyway ... the judge has ruled in favour of Hallows - and as Rasper says above this will now create a legal precedent which could theoretically turn football into a completely non-contact sport ... like bloody netball ... and potentially kill the game at our level. I thought long and hard about other such incidents - Eduardo (back playing after 12 months - no action taken against Martin Taylor), Henrik Larsson (back after 8 months out), David Busst (retired - leg healed, but infection and other muscle damage was too much) - obviously at the higher levels, the players ARE looked after and cossetted by their clubs - and are well provided with insurance etc. On the other hand we have Peter Morrison of Scunthorpe who was awarded over £400,000 compensation after a tackle that broke his leg in several places - although you must note that the tackler in this case WAS SENT OFF - unlike Danny White who WAS NOT EVEN BOOKED.

We mustn't forget Danny White and the mental damage this case has caused to HIS career (believe there could be a possible counter-claim option for Ashton United on behalf of Danny) - after leaving Ashton United he moved to Mossley for a while before moving on to Buxton and Retford - he hasn't played for a while ... for obvious reasons - and I'm sure there was plenty of work for an Elvis impersonator over the Christmas period .... And what about the officials who were involved in the game - if their decisions can be overturned by a judge (who may know jack about non-league football and the implications of his decision) on what I consider minimal evidence - there truly is no hope for the game ...

This decision HAS to be overturned .... it really does ...

23FEB10 UPDATE - (in case no-one checks later posts) on-line petition now up HERE



Anonymous said...

Without seeing the basis of the court's decision I think its a bit unfair to criticise the decision.

The decision is not a full precedent. There have been other football claims, which the court is bound to follow, Collett v Smith (2009) springs to mind. These previous decision have been based upon injuries stopping careers. In relation to insurance, for professional players plying their trade in league two or above, PFA automatically cover all their players through the Accident and Sickness Insurance Scheme in the event that the player suffers a specific injury or illness which results in their permanent total disability to play professional football.

In relation to the case, without seeing the actual pleadings, all Hallows would have to prove is that on the balance of probabilities the challenge was reckless and caused a permanent injury which meant he could not continue with his trade as a footballer. This means that Hallows would need to prove that at the minimum level there was a 50.1% chance that the tackle could have ruined his career. A couple photo’s and expert opinion would normally seal the decision.

As I said earlier, this is not a full precedent, recent cases include:

Collett v Smith (2009) where a former man utd youngster was awarded over £3m for a tackle that ruined his career at age 18. This decision also made national headlines.
Appleton v El Safty (2007) where a 25yr old was awarded compensation for an injury suffered in training, which wasn’t treated properly and the player had to retire.
Other cases have nearly come to the courts, but like Matty Holmes v Kevin muscat (£250,000 awarded in 2004) most are out of court, where it is cheaper to settle.

Personally, on the one hand the club has to be protected, which it should be through liability insurance. Whether its players have their own personal liability insurance or clubs having full insurance for home and away games. This should be a compulsory element of football administration. Im sure some will complain about the cost of such insurance, however as Ashton have unfortunately seem, full insurance would have paid out this claim. However on the other hand the player has had his income stream taken away, and would need to find alternative employment. What makes the Hallows case different, is that Alty was part-time, and his other job as an Elvis impersonator was also affected. Therefore Hallows could also claim loss of future earnings from his second job.

Ashton could consider an appeal, but it would be unlikely that they would succeed. The decision is based upon the current tort of negligence.

Casper Daniels. Legal trainee.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for Ashton, but I remember this at the time. Hallows nearly died as a results of his injuries. The bone was protruding out of his leg. Perhaps the clubs should have insurance against claims like this. It's unfair to blame the victim

Anonymous said...

what does Marcus Hollows hope to gain from this claim.The club have no assets and like all small football clubs they have no money. All he will do is sink a football club that has been in existence for over 100years.

Anonymous said...

Mike - what a brillinat, well thought out piece from somebody who knows football at this level inside out (unlike, it seems, the judge).

In response to the post stating the extent of Mr Hallows injuries - these were of course highly regretabble but how can you hold Danny White and Ashton United accountable if there was no intent and the injuries were accidentally caused? I have watched football at this level for over a decade and see tackles like that every week.

For the good of the game - this MUST be overturned.

Anonymous said...

So, basically, this decision means that any tackle that causes injury, whether it be intentional or accidental, can be claimed against. Well done everyone involved in this claim - you have just made football at semi-pro level a non-contact sport. Who in their right mind on £30 per week is going to risk everything they have by attempting to challenge an opponent.

As for taking out expensive insurance - clubs are barely surviving at semi-pro level as it is without this extra expense. And as for players (like it must be said for Mr Hallows) for whom sport is a second income - it would be cheaper for a lot of them to simply jack it in than fork out the kind of amounts they would need to pay.

Where does this stop - does the Sunday park player now need liability insurance? This is madness in my view.

Henry said...


I can tell you that a few months before the incident me and the missus shared a table with Marcus and his missus at a "do" and they didn't have a pot to piss in and their first young 'un on the way. He certainly hadn't got his singing career off the ground as I distinctly remember him probing me about joining musical agencies...etc...and he told me he didn't have any other means of income at the time...trouble was the lad that he had been playing a journeyman pro all through his 20's with teams like Sligo Rovers and they were both very anxious about his future as he was turning 30 at the time.

Mr Hoover x

ps - pint soon

Anonymous said...

If this does not get overturned contact sport is dead. When you play contact sports like football and rugby you expect to get hard challenges from opponents, 99%of challenges are not ment to hurt people


Stuart said...

I wonder what impact, if any, this would have in light of Aaron Ramsey's dreadful injury in todays Stoke v Arsenal game.

Anonymous said...

Mike Smith is talking rubbish.

The tackle was so, so, so, late that the keeper had saved it and the ball was still in play (which continued) that the ref and officials (as they should do ) kept up with play and it was then that White tackled Hallows, whose shot was some seconds earlier.

Whites tackle was extremley late... hence no freekick.

Mike Smith you fool - how can a ref give a freekick if the tackle was so late that nobody saw it!!!!!

White never ever apologised to Hallows or passed on his sympathy /wishes etc etc and nor did Ashton Utd.

Now Ashton are palying the sympathy card with regards money and White is comming to terms with the decision... he was never bothered about the injury to Hallows was he!!!

But now his reckless takle has come back to haunt him and also Ashton.

I am aware it is a contact sport but White needs to recognise that his awful tackle nearly killed someone.... but Hallows and white were both lucky that it only ended his career.... you got off lightly White and stop moaning.

Hallows has never moaned and tried to get on with his life.

He lost earnings from football which is what a court has awarded him.

You idiot Smith!!!!!

Anonymous said...

i bet you wont show the last comment as it is anti white and ashton... you loser

Mike Smith said...

Happy to publish comments from all sides ... even those hiding behind the "anonymous" moniker ... unlike some places, you will find no anti-Marcus Hallows feelings written by me on this blog - I have merely laid out the facts as I understand them - the only bit of personal opinion is that the attempted method of recompense is wrong - and while many agree with this sentiment, I DO know there is support for BOTH sides - my aim really was to open up this can of worms called "insurance and liability" to a wider audience - and in that sense it has succeeded. Let's hope that something can be sorted out which benefits football as a whole - and keeps the non-league game alive.

Anonymous said...

what i dont understand is how the public liability insurance doesnt cover away games. this surely means the club were under insured so you shouldnt personally be financially liable. what about the away teams public liability insurance? does that not cover any games played on their grounds? im not saying that the player shouldnt be compensated for loss of earnings im just saying the ammount which is impossible for the club to pay then has to be covered by insurance or surely there is negligence on the teams themselves who open their players to this kind of case by not properly insuring against this. this may be a way you can appeal this case without going against the other player. i suggest you take out personal liability insurance for now if you are considering playing football again until this loophole is sealed. good luck to you