Hammers take FA to court over Ashton
West Ham United will issue a writ against the FA for £10.5 million in compensation for retired England international Dean Ashton, who had to quit the game due to injury.
Ashton was forced to hang up his boots more than two years ago because of an ankle problem that the Hammers claim originates from a break he suffered at England training ahead of a clash with Greece in August 2006.
West Ham’s claim will be for the £8 million insurance and £2.5 million pay-out that the club paid Ashton when he was forced to quit in December 2009, aged 26.
Ashton had two operations but then played more than 40 further games for the Hammers and was awarded a new five-year contract – the reason the FA is defending the claims for compensation.
In a landmark case, West Ham are planning to take the FA to court despite football rules stressing that disputes should be settled by authorities’ own arbitration systems.
This is the first headache for newly appointed FA chairman David Bernstein, who was confirmed as the new independent chairman of the FA only this week.
The Hammers have hired a top level QC, who has spent more than three months preparing the case, and the writ will be ready to be served in a matter of weeks.
ESPNsoccernet first highlighted the potential legal case in November, confirming that the Hammers were considering court action, but with no meaningful negotiations taking place with the FA since, the club believe they have no other choice than to take the matter to the High Court.
A Hammers insider told ESPNsoccernet: “Yes, it’s true that we are preparing a writ and that it is now to be served on the FA within a matter of weeks. It is not something we are taking lightly, or that we would actually like to do. The FA are giving us no choice.
“We’d love to settle it amicably, but we have drawn blanks with both the FA and their insurers and have no choice but to go to the courts.
“It can’t be morally right that a player gets his ankle smashed to bits playing for England, he battles away trying to recover for two years, but finally accepts that the problem will reoccur forever, has to retire and his club, who had released him to play for England, get nothing from the FA, not even the £2.5 million compensation they paid the player.”