Footballer loses appeal over damages

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Middlesbrough Football Club and player Gary Smith lost an appeal on Wednesday against a £4.5 million damages award over a high tackle.

Middlesbrough's Smith broke Manchester United player Ben Collett's right leg in two places during a reserve game between the clubs in 2003.

Collett was awarded the damages by a High Court judge sitting in Manchester last August who heard that Collett, 23, was unable to sustain the level required to be a professional and was ultimately forced to retire from the game.

Both Smith and Middlesbrough accepted liability in the case, in which both Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and captain Gary Neville spoke on behalf of Collett.

Sir Alex told the High Court that Collett had an outstanding chance of progressing to the first team and enjoying a career in the game.

The court heard Collett could have earned more than £13,000 a week, and could have played until the age of 35.

Dismissing the appeal, Lady Justice Smith and Lord Justice Carnwath agreed that not only was the compensation for a lost career not excessive, but there was a chance Collett could have achieved even more as a footballer.

At the appeal hearing in Manchester, Andrew Prynne QC, representing Middlesbrough, said Collett might not have made it in the Premier League and might have become a Championship footballer.

He also suggested the amount of the award had over-estimated Collett's earning potential if he had gone on to play in either of the top two divisions.

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Gary Smith
Premier League
Manchester United
Gary Neville

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