The “Collett effect”: increasing risk of litigation in football for injury to players

Published 27 February 2014 | Authored by: Adam Lovatt

In this blog, Adam Lovatt highlights a case in the High Court, where Nottingham Forrest striker Dexter Blackstock is seeking damages from Cardiff City and their player Seyi Olofinjana.

The name Ben Collett may not mean a lot to many readers whilst the name Alf-Inge Haaland might. Collett was playing in a reserve team match for Manchester United against Middlesbrough in 2003 and five years later was awarded over £4m in damages (paid out by insurers) as a result of a tackle which broke his leg in two places during the match and forced him to retire from football.

Haaland suffered a knee injury following a tackle from Roy Keane whilst playing for Manchester City during a Manchester derby in 2001, which Keane later admitted in his autobiography was a pre-meditated tackle. No court action was pursued by Manchester City or Haaland despite the tackle and later admission by Irishman.

Dexter Blackstock has this week issued an action for damages in the High Court following a knee injury he suffered as a result of a tackle from current Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Seyi Olofinjana in a Championship match between Nottingham Forrest and Cardiff City in 2010. The total sum sought by Blackstock is in excess of £50,000, with the player, who remains on the books on Forrest but is out injured until the end of the season, claiming that the tackle was made in a way which ‘caused a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury’.

Olofinjana denies the charge, as do Cardiff City. The case has not yet been heard by a Judge but it will be interesting to keep an eye on this over the forthcoming few months to see if the Collett case is used as a precedent and if this new Blackstock case opens up the door to other footballers & professional players in other team sports seeking damages in the courts resulting from injuries suffered during competitive matches.


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About the Author

Adam Lovatt

Adam Lovatt

Adam is a lawyer specialising in sports law with IMG. Adam has a wide range of commercial and litigation experience from his four years as a qualified solicitor. Adam has a passion for sports law and is currently undertaking a IP Law Masters programme with the University of London. He is passionate about most sports particularly football, golf and tennis.

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