Injury pay-out highlights injustice of life

by Mystical Mike

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Instant millionaires

After hearing about the massive £4.5million pay-out former Manchester United starlet Ben Collett received following a career-ending tackle on his reserve-team debut at Middlesbrough in 2003, it hit home just how ridiculous the money involved in football has become.

Collett was just 18 at the time of the injury he picked up courtesy of a rash challenge from then Boro player Gary Smith, who admitted liability along with the North-East club.

It was claimed he was on the verge of securing a three-year contract at Old Trafford while Sir Alex Ferguson and club captain Gary Neville dished out glowing reports about how he would have been a world beater destined for greatness.

As a result Mrs Justice Swift promptly awarded Collett £4.3million and revealed that figure will probably rise by £200,000 in October when sums for future loss of pension and interest on past loss of earnings are taken into account at a further hearing at London’s High Court.

Collett’s solicitor Jan Levinson had argued that her client could have accrued up to £16million had he continued playing until the age of 35 on a £13,000-a-week wage. But she was happy with the pay-out, saying it; “reflects Ben’s talent and potential prior to the tackle as one of the brightest young footballers in the country”.

Nobody is saying Collett did not deserve some compensation for what happened to him and he might well have become a regular in the United and even England team set-up. However, £4.5million is an unbelievable amount of money to be handed out to somebody who ’might’ have been a good footballer.

After all the lad has not been killed or lost a limb which has meant he has been unable to craft out an alternative career away from football.

I had a dizzy spell on the waltzers when I was eight which has psychologically damaged me with regards to G Forces. Perhaps I should sue the fairground for ruining my chances of becoming an astronaut and sue for potential earnings?

Seriously, though, take a look at the soldiers returning from Iraq/Afghanistan with no legs, arms, etc and they get a paltry £200,000 and are expected to just get on with life. When you consider that scenario Collett’s pay out is an absolute shocker.

The fact he was a Manchester United player at the time will also have worked in his favour. You can bet that had the lad played for Leyton Orient he would have got what a normal man in the street would get if he suffered a career ending injury in whatever field they are in.

How fair would that have been to say Nicky Shorey had he suffered a similar injury while in the lower leagues? He has since gone on to work his way up to the Premier League and is on a good contract at Aston Villa and an England international.

That could not have been predicted at such a tender age and he would not have been compensated to that level, whereas Collett could quite easily have spent a season at United, got loaned out to a League One side before slipping into football obscurity within three years.

Still it’s just another example of how top-flight footballers might as well be living in another universe to the rest of us mere mortals!

Written by Craig Smithson, a professional sports writer who blogs about football betting at Betfair.

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  • Danny Brothers

    It is shocking compared to the forces’ pay outs…as you say, he could easily have dropped into obscurity after a while. Will this now mean that any united youngster who doesn’t think they will make it will go into a bad challenge?

  • Darren

    thats a very good point, if someone loses a limb fighting for his country in Iraq there’s no way he would even get a 10th of that. It’s total madness. Something needs to done as the game is way of control.

  • ed

    stick to soccer pal (tho’ i won’t read any of your blogs); clearly you are out of your depth – pretty embarrassing – and, no, i’m not a man u fan, leeds, for my sins

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