OSSETT UNITED's Ingfield ground may have to be sold to help pay £135,000 following a landmark legal ruling last week.
A court in Manchester ruled that Ossett Town are liable for the injury costs of Reece Welsh, who suffered a broken ankle for Radcliffe Borough following a tackle from Town’s Sam Akeroyd in a Northern Premier League match in April 2015.
Welsh was awarded £19,297.38 in damages while Ossett Town are also liable for legal costs, which takes the total court order up to £135,000. The defence costs were covered by Town’s league-recommended insurance, but the pay-out is not.
Town merged with Ossett Albion to form a new club in 2018 but liability was transferred to Ossett Town Ltd, which was established that year and owns the Ingfield ground which is currently leased rent-free to United.
Ossett United said in a statement that the sale of the stadium by Ossett Town Ltd to developers is “looking like the only option” to keep the club alive, although they are believed to be considering a crowdfunding appeal first to raise the money required.
The ruling could have big implications for semi-professional sport, as it could lead to many more players claiming damages from clubs if they get injured in matches.
The club said: “Not only does this put the entire club and the future of football in the town in jeopardy but also opens up the floodgates for all injured sports participants to successfully sue and win substantial money from the person who injured them and their club.”
Ossett United chairman Phil Smith said: “I have had other chairmen throughout the league making contact and raising their own concerns.
“They are worried that an immeasurable amount of claims can now be raised from previous incidents at their club resulting in them actually losing their football club, it’s quite a scary situation we are all now in.”