Football: pounds 250,000 award for foul that ruined career

Friday 20 December 1996 00:02 GMT

The award of pounds 250,000 damages by the High Court yesterday to the former Stockport player Brian McCord as a result of a tackle which broke his leg and ended his career has prompted football's authorities to consider the introduction of a compesnation scheme.

It is the first time a judge has awarded compensation to a professional player for injuries received during a game - a move which is likely to have a major impact on all sport.

Mr Justice Ian Kennedy found that the then Swansea City captain, John Cornforth, had made an error when he challenged McCord for the ball during Swansea's game against Stockport in March 1993.

The "horrific injuries" to McCord's right leg ruled him out of the game and he is now studying to become a physiotherapist. "I am delighted with the judgment," McCord said. "I have been on income support since the accident and I was 100 per cent sure taking this action was the right thing to do."

The Football Association announced that they will now hold talks with the Premier League, Football League and the Professional Footballers' Association in a bid to introduce a "no-fault compensation scheme" in a bid to take such matters away from the realm of the courts.

David Davies, the FA's director of public affairs, said: "Everybody has the right to take legal action but the benefit of a no-fault compensation scheme within the game and supported by all parts of it appears to be clear. Football isn't and shouldn't be outside the civil and criminal laws of the land."

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the PFA, assured members that they had nothing to fear from the courts as long as they remain within the boundaries of acceptable behaviour on the pitch.

Walter Williams, a South Wales policeman who was the match assessor producing a report on the abilities of the linesmen and referee, told the judge in his view the tackle was among the worst three he had ever seen. He said Cornforth's right foot was two feet above the ball.

Bobby Gould, the Wales manager who was in the director's box with Williams, said in his opinion Cornforth intended to strike the player not the ball. "It was one of the worst tackles I have ever seen," Gould said.

The judge said he could understand the many witnesses who said Cornforth was playing the man and not the ball but "that was not my conclusion", particularly having heard about his good reputation. However, the judge ruled that the tackle was "inconsistent" with taking reasonable care and it was one occasion when his skill "deserted him".

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