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

Retires.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee