Do I not like that . . . Insult added to injuries: Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the PFA, feels that the dock is no place for football to conduct its affairs

NOBODY is above the law of the land and that includes sportsmen and sportswomen on the field of play. The courts will give their judgment on the injury suffered by Paul Elliott but the issue will reach far into the future.

Let us be clear about one thing. There is no new law involved here. If one sportsman deliberately injures another or is so reckless having regard to the physical nature of the sport in question, then he will be liable for that injury. The Professional Footballers' Association has long warned its members that they owe a duty of care to one another and following the eye injuries in more recent times, first to John Uzzell and then Gary Mabbutt, we have run a dramatic poster campaign in all the club dressing rooms. What the court is being asked to decide is whether Dean Saunders actually intended to injure Paul or acted so recklessly in what he did that he did not care whether Paul was injured. Who can best decide? Lawyers, who are adept at public speaking and presenting difficult legal and factual issues, or those who have spent a lifetime in professional football: players, coaches, managers and referees?

Everyone has the right to go to court, but the costs can be tremendous and the lengthy time span of pressure and worry overshadowing the parties extremely damaging. And what of the players who are dragged into court to give evidence? They are asked for their personal views, a recipe for setting one player against another, one club against another with the risk of recriminations. Vinnie Jones has spoken out in a national newspaper expressing his horror at being subpoenaed. He was not being asked to give evidence; he was being asked to state, in his view, who was at fault.

I am very sorry that Paul Elliott finds himself out of football. I am also sorry that we do not already have machinery which adequately compensates injured players without having to consider the courts. On behalf of the PFA, I have done all possible to help Paul achieve a good settlement at Chelsea, but we have to stop short of supporting an action against another member of our association. To support such an action would mean our acting as judge and jury and deciding which member to support. That would be divisive.

Dean feels, and many will no doubt support him, that he has done nothing that has not happened many thousands of times before in football, yet on this occasion a dreadful injury resulted and he has spent months with his life overshadowed by an action which if successful might bankrupt him.

For a long time now, the PFA has sought to set up a football tribunal to adjudicate in matters of this kind. A tribunal cannot overreach the jurisdiction of the courts; it would comprise representatives from football and its governing bodies and would be best placed to make a quick decision, where an aggressor can be disciplined and an injured player compensated.

This brings me to the question of insurance, because compensation has to come from somewhere, and to award it against another player (who may not be able to pay) is not the answer. The injured player must be compensated, quickly, with the knowledge that he will be paid whatever is awarded to him. If compensation claims through the courts, with all the legal costs, become the order of the day, insurance premiums to cover liability will go through the roof. The PFA has considered trying to set up protection policies for players, but they would be an invitation for litigation. If only the governing bodies and the clubs could get together to set up a tribunal system, backed by adequate insurance to cover compensation, then insurers can feel more comfortable in the cover they offer and the cost of premiums can be contained and shared throughout football.

Insurance is not new in this area. Most clubs carry insurance in case their star players are injured. Many players now carry their own insurance against permanent disablement. It is a type of insurance policy commonly set up through our financial advice arm, PFA Financial Management. If only the cover could be extended and streamlined.

I am sorry that it has taken the injury to Paul, the worry for Dean and the soul-searching for all players and officials who have been asked to give evidence to bring this matter to the forefront of the minds of those who follow football. It is our national sport and its players deserve better.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power