skip to content

Newcastle ordered to pay Kevin Keegan 2 million in damages

02 Oct 2009 12:50:32

Newcastle ordered to pay Kevin Keegan  2 million in damages

Awarding the former England manager £2 million in damages, the panel, headed by Phillip Havers QC, concluded that Keegan was well within his rights to refuse to sign Gonzalez on the basis of video clips posted on YouTube and recommendations by former director of football Dennis Wise. Keegan resigned on Sept 4, 2008, less than eight months into his second managerial spell at the club and successfully claimed Newcastle had breached a term of his contract relating to player transfers which led the panel to decide his former employers were guilty of constructive dismissal as they issued a damning indictment of the way the club was run ahead of a season that resulted in relegation from the Premier League. Their verdict means that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley - who counter-claimed for breach of contract - is braced to pay £1.5 million in legal costs but the financial costs almost pale into insignificance compared to the stain left on the club's name thanks to the fascinating insight into the running of the club provided by the panel's 23-page report. The panel backed Keegan's argument that his position had become untenable because Newcastle had breached his contractual right to have the final say on transfers by signing Gonzalez on loan “expressly against his wishes” just before last year's summer transfer deadline. The tribunal report said “no one at the club had ever seen him play” and that Keegan had been told by Wise to watched footage of Gonzalez on YouTube but found the picture quality to be poor and “provided no basis for signing a player to a Premier League club”. Despite the fact Keegan “very strongly objected” to Gonzalez's arrival on loan from Valencia, his directors ignored his wishes and finalised a “ commercial deal” that led to Keegan to storm out of the club. “The 'commercial interests', according to the club, were that the signing of the player on loan would be a 'favour' to two influential South American agents who would look favourably on the club in the future,” the report added. Keegan confirmed that he had resigned because of his strong opposition to the signing of Gonzalez in such bizarre circumstances. “I resigned because I was being asked to sanction the signing of a player in order to “do a favour” for two South American agents,” Keegan said. “ No one at the club had seen this player play and I was asked to sign him on the basis of some clips on YouTube. “This is something that I was not prepared to be associated with in any way. The club knew that I objected strongly to this transfer and were aware that by continuing with it “I was likely to feel that I had no option but to resign. Notwithstanding this they nevertheless went on to sign the player at very substantial cost to the club.” The panel's report revealed that Keegan had sought £8.6 million in compensation as well as a further £16.5 million in “stigma damages” for the effect of the saga on his future earning capacity. A clause in Keegan's contract that limited compensation to £2 million following dismissal or resignation denied an emphatic victory but Keegan insisted the “central purpose” of legal battle had been to “clear my name and restore my reputation” and he lamented the club's admission to the tribunal “ that it repeatedly and intentionally misled the press, public and the fans” . That centres on public protestations from the Newcastle boardroom that Keegan would have the “final say” on transfers from Wise and the former chairman Chris Mort. After hearing evidence for a fortnight the panel, that also included Lord Pannick QC and Manchester United's assistant secretary, Kenneth Merrett, said: “The club's explanation for these statements, which, on their case, were simply untrue, was that they were nothing more than an exercise in public relations carried out so as not to undermine Mr Keegan's position and made necessary, in the first place, by statements made by Mr Keegan himself to the press. We found this explanation to be profoundly unsatisfactory. “We do not understand why the club could not set out publicly and truthfully what they maintain was the true position. After all, Mr Ashley's vision for the club involved a change to a Continental structure and it is clear from the evidence that there are managers of some Continental clubs who do not have the final say. “For the club to have made these statements, when they were, according to the club, untrue, was, in our view, simply to store up trouble for the future.”


Telegraph

Sponsored links