Ashton urged not to sue as career ends

PFA ask retiring striker not to sue Wright-Phillips over tackle that broke ankle

It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good and the sailors' maxim also applies to the wreckage of a footballer's career. Dean Ashton's long struggle with injury has been a windfall to the medical community, now it could be even more lucrative for the legal profession.

Ashton, a strong and mobile centre-forward who, if he had remained fit, would have been in the running for a World Cup place, confirmed his retirement yesterday, more than three years after suffering an ankle injury on the eve of what was to be his England debut. The 26-year-old made several comeback attempts, one of which was successful enough for him to finally make his international bow, but was never the same player. Having been warned that he risked disability later in life if he did not retire Ashton has given in. It is understood he will undergo another operation next week.

Attention will then turn to the issue of compensation, both for Ashton and his club, West Ham. In normal circumstances the Football Association's insurers would recompense a club for the loss of a player injured on international duty, as Ashton was in August 2006. His value then was claimed to be £7m, the fee West Ham paid Norwich City for him eight months previously. However, the FA's insurers (actually, their previous insurers) will note that Ashton played 32 matches in 2007-08, including one for England, scoring 11 goals, before suffering further injury. They may thus argue other injuries contributed to his retirement.

A similar defence will be used should Ashton sue Shaun Wright-Phillips, or his then-club Chelsea. Wright-Phillips committed the tackle which led to the injury while the pair were training ahead of an England international with Greece.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, yesterday urged Ashton not to sue Wright-Phillips. "I hope it doesn't come to that because nobody would think that Shaun Wright-Phillips was a malicious player at all," said Taylor. "At the moment we've been speaking to his representatives and the situation is about looking to get proper compensation without discussing any player v player action. It's complex."

Soundings from legal experts suggested it would be difficult for Ashton to sue successfully. He would already have some insurance against loss of earnings through injury, so any additional action would centre on proving Wright-Phillips, Chelsea, or England (the FA) were negligent.

Ashton, who signed a new five-year contract last year, is expected to agree a pay-off with the club in the region of £3m, cash West Ham can ill-afford even if they will be grateful for a reduction in their wage bill. Tony Cottee, a predecessor in the Hammers attack, said: "Cynics will point out he will get paid millions of pounds but that doesn't replace the fact he has lost his footballing years and also has to deal mentally with the problems of retiring."

Current Hammers' manager Gianfranco Zola, who was never able to pick Ashton, said, "I feel for him and I feel for me as well as I wonder what it would have been like to have a player like him in my squad. He would have made a big difference for us. That is my sorrow."

There was sympathy also from Crewe manager Dario Gradi, who gave Ashton his debut at 16 before selling him to Norwich. Gradi said: "The saving grace is that he will have made enough money not to have to work again, but it is a great shame."

Taylor added: "It's extremely sad. He was a great talent, but injury is one of the hazards of the profession."

Broken dreams: Ashton's injuries

*August 2006

Broke left ankle in training before England match with Greece. Missed entire season.

*October 2007

Damaged knee ligaments, again on England duty. Out for six weeks.

*September 2008

Leaves field injured during match at West Brom, his final game. Injures ankle again in training later in the same month.

*December 2009


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own