As if it ever went away. The Premiership kicks off this weekend and I will be hoping that Arsenal can do better than last year’s third place and gain the trophy that their brand of exciting, attacking play deserves. One person who will probably see the great kick off as a bittersweet moment will be Ben Collett, the former Manchester United player whose career was cut tragically short at the age of 18 by a bad tackle, when he made his debut in a reserve game against Middlesbrough.
It was reported this week that the High Court has awarded him £4.5 million as compensation for having his leg broken in two places in May 2003. As ever in the cases of large awards, the headline figure does not tell us very much. The vast bulk of the award was made up of an award for future loss of earnings – almost £3.9mn – and was so large because it was judged he could have been earning £13,000 a week if he carried on to have a normal length playing career. The figure for past loss of earnings was not far short of half a million pounds. Neither of these figures are particularly surprising given the large amounts of money that Premiership footballers earn.
What was interesting about this case, aside from the appearance of Sir Alex Ferguson and Gary Neville in court as witnesses on behalf of Ben Collett, was the award of £35,000 for “PSLA” – otherwise known as “pain suffering and loss of amenity”. This is the sum awarded for the personal injury itself; for the actual pain of having a very serious break of the leg and the subsequent effect on his life. PSLA awards in this country are generally pretty low, but £35,000 is a substantial figure and reflects not only the how bad the injury was but also the ongoing level of symptoms and pain he continues to suffer. The award will also include the “loss of amenity” in not being able to pursue a career that most of us (men) can only dream of. He now plans to go to University: good luck Ben.
This article first appeared in the “Docklands” and “Peninsula” newspapers on 12th August 2008