Nelson wins court battle with Tigers

Basketball

A number of Budweiser League players may be calling solicitors rather than agents this week, following a county court decision to award pounds 3,200 damages plus legal costs to the former England international Steve Nelson against Thames Valley Tigers.

Two seasons ago Nelson, now with Worthing Bears but recovering from knee surgery, was asked to sign a new contract with Tigers for less money -so the club could sign another player under the salary cap. When Nelson refused he was cut from the team.

Already this season several players have been released by clubs to make way for new signings under the salary cap restrictions.

The question of contracts between clubs and players is an area inadequately handled by both the league and the sport's nominal governing body, the English Basketball Association, whose influence over the sport's elite has steadily decreased throughout the 1990s.

The recent dispute between Crystal Palace and London Leopards over another England international, Ronnie Baker, arose because he was allowed to register for Palace with the association before signing a contract with the club.

When Baker decided to return to Leopards they had to pay pounds 500 compensation to Palace even though he had never signed a contract with them.

The Palace coach and general manager, Alton Byrd, admitted: "If the rules stipulated players had to sign contracts before registering with the association this sort of thing would be avoided."

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